Customers buying drones from shops is the big problem, warns leading UK safety expert 


Aviation insurers have been warned they must urgently work together to prepare for collisions between airplanes and an uninsured drone.

The looming disaster is predicted as more and more uninsured drones take to the skies, causing havoc with UK airspace.

Dai Whittingham, chief executive of the United Kingdom Flight Safety Committee, told Insurance Times that insurers must act now. 

Whittingham said the real problem lied with rogue drone users buying equipment from high street shops and then flying them around carelessly. 

“My interest is in the safety aspect; there is considerable concern within the aviation industry about the unregulated use of drones.

“It is accepted that professional users who obtain the necessary permissions and who operate responsibly, and those who belong to one of the model aircraft associations, are less of a problem than the casual user who buys a drone from retial outlets and who have no concept of the airspace structure or the regulations pertaining to drones,” said Dai, head of the UK’s voluntary club of aviation professionals dedicated to improving safety in the skies. 

“At the UK Flight Safety Committee we are concerned that the rapid proliferation of drones and their uses presents a significant risk to other users of the airspace, in particular to commercial air transport and helicopters.

“We have already seen some near-collisions between drones and large passenger aircraft, and there has been disruption to traffic flows at a number of major airports with consequent costs arising from delays, diversions and cancellations of flights.

“The main problems lie with unlicensed or casual users who have no appreciation that the airspace is regulated and who do not understand the risk they pose to others.

“There will be significant tortious liability issues to be dealt with, and the insurance industry may need to consider mechanisms such as pooled funding to meet 3rd-party claims arising from uninsured drone operators, much as happens today with drivers.

“It is in everyone’s interests for this sort of activity to be properly regulated and managed. We do not allow people to use the roads without appropriate training or licensing; the same principles should apply to users of shared airspace.”