Experts see need for tougher regulations on drones

Local | Sophie Hui 7 Dec 2017

The Civil Aviation Department has proposed introducing tougher measures to regulate drones in Hong Kong.

The move comes after experts hired by the government suggested that drones and their users should be trained, licensed and covered by insurance.

The department submitted a paper to the Legislative Council yesterday, saying the foreign experts made six suggestions for regulating drones. A registration system for drones is recommended, especially as mainland users have to register their aircraft. Europe is also likely to implement similar measures.

The consultants suggested the government establish an online registration system for both owners and their drones. Experts suggested registration requirements should be categorized in three levels - low risk, low risk but need to be controlled, and high risk and need to be controlled.

Any drone heavier than 25 kilograms should be classified as "high risk" and will need to be registered online. Those between 250 grams and seven kilograms will be "low risk" and allowed to fly under certain guidelines. However, drones lighter than 250g would not need to be licensed.

But lighter drones are still regulated by the Air Navigation (Hong Kong) Order 1995, which stipulates that a person shall not recklessly or negligently cause or permit an aircraft to endanger any person or property.

Experts also recommended that users pass a training program before flying low-risk drones. High-risk drone users would require advanced training. The craft must be insured and forbidden areas publicized.

A public consultation is expected in the first quarter next year.

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