The UK public remain sceptical about the use of drones, according to the latest figures released by the air traffic management service, NATS. Almost 80% of the 1,000 people surveyed by Ipsos MORI as part of NATS’ annual Aviation Index expressed concerns around privacy, while almost three quarters felt drones pose an ongoing safety risk to aircraft. According to NATS:
“The findings come as the number of drone related incidents around airports continues to rise. So far in 2018, reports to the UK Airprox board, which investigates reports of drone sightings by pilots, number 118. In 2017 the figure was 93. Conversely, a large majority of people (80%) expressed support for the use of drones to help the emergency services – as is happening in many police and fire services around the country – and 45% saw drones as a potentially useful technology.”
Andy Sage, NATS Drone Lead, said: “These findings show that people are not necessarily against drones, but that they have legitimate concerns about safety and privacy. NATS, working with the industry and Civil Aviation Authority, has done a huge amount of work to try and improve drone safety and pilot training, but its clear there is more work to do here.
“Equally, as drone technology and regulations evolve to allow ‘beyond line of sight’ operations, we are working on ways to safely integrate them with manned aircraft and therefore allow fair and equal access to all users.”
Last year NATS launched its ‘Drone Assist’ app to help drone pilots identify safe places to fly, while through its partnership with drone technology company Altitude Angel, it is exploring ways for drones to fly safely in the same airspace as conventional aircraft, most notably during last week’s Operation Zenith at Manchester Airport.
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