Drones are seldom far from the front pages but quite often the stories show UAVs as something to be feared from a privacy or safety standpoint or employed by criminals for nefarious purposes.
However, the CAA launched their third annual Drone Awareness Study to try to get to the truth of the public’s perception of the increasingly common sight of drones in the sky.
With a recent report by PWC estimating the drone industry having the potential to boost UK GDP by £42bn by 2030, it’s clear that aerial filming is going to be part of all of our lives in one form or another. How it is viewed by both pilots and consumers is therefore going to be really important as the industry literally begins to spread its wings.
It would seem that everyone from pilots to the public are on the same page when it comes to one key issue – safety. Increased regulation, safety and stiffer penalties for rule-breaking were high on the wish list for the majority of people who responded.
The ‘Drone Code’ – the code launched by the CAA to promote the rules and principles for safe flight – has become increasingly recognised – a heartening fact. 93% of the public and 96% of pilots interviewed thought it was ‘vital’ that it be adhered to in order to keep the skies safer for everyone.
A good proportion also state that they would welcome stiffer penalties in terms of large fines against those who fly outside of these rules – over 400ft or within airport boundaries (with 29% feeling that breaching the latter should merit a prison sentence). Lifetime flight bans were also mooted by 19% for dangerous flights over congested areas. Safety is clearly to be a priority for all in the future if drones are to leverage both their commercial and recreational potential as predicted.
In an age where smart phones proliferate, it is unsurprising that mobile apps are perceived to be the ideal way to create and regulate responsible and legal drone use. 73% of pilots said that they planned to use an app in the future (with 45% already doing do). These apps, such as NATS DroneAssist, are felt to offer real benefits both in terms of flight planning and activity reporting. The future definitely looks to be mobile as far as drones are concerned.