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New drone rules for Scilly explained

Scilly’s Airport Manager has clarified how drones must operate on the islands in the wake of new guidelines around their use.

Following the recent disruption at Gatwick and Heathrow airports, the Government has introduced legislation to extend the ‘no-fly zone’ for drones and model aircraft around UK airports to 5km (3 miles) from runways, an increase from the previous 1km.

The new rule, which comes into effect on March 13th, means drone operators will have to obtain a permit before flying in the restricted areas.

Violating a ‘no-fly zone’ could lead to a prison sentence of up to five years.

The map below illustrates the new restricted areas around the Isles of Scilly:

Airport and Air Services Manager Russ Schild explained: "The circle is our Aerodrome Traffic Zone (ATZ), which is controlled airspace requiring permission to enter by Air Traffic Control. The dimensions are 2 nautical miles radius extending vertically up to 2,000 feet above aerodrome elevation. The rectangles at each runway end are the new Runway Protection Zones intended to protect arriving and departing aircraft at protected airports such as St Mary’s. Dimensions of these zones are 1km width extending out to 5km with the same vertical limit as the ATZ.

"With the boundaries of all the Red Outlined areas on the map, Air Traffic Control permission is required at all times. We have a very good working relationship with the local drone operators on the islands and as the season commences we will be holding a further poster campaign to inform all visitors who may have brought their drone with them on holiday. It should be noted that drone flying on Tresco is banned without specific permission from the Estate Management."

On whether exceptions will be made for special occasions, he said: "For any events eg. WPGC, ÖttillÖ Swimrun or TV productions, we have a close liaison with the pilots of drones, who must contact us prior to commencing and upon cessation of each flight. Filming areas are predetermined and agreed as are altitudes, which allows Air Traffic Control to inform all affected flights."

Russ added: "To date we have not has any incidents or reports of close encounters. Local users also inform us when they are flying outside of the Restricted Areas which is extremely helpful due to the nature of the Flying Operations on the Islands i.e. SAR (Search And Rescue) & HEMS (Helicopter Emergency Medical Service), as well as Military low flying."

Click here to read the Civil Aviation Authority Publication CAP1763, which outlines all the requirements.


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