Air traffic services company, NATS has signed a safety partnership agreement with ARPAS UK, the trade association that represents the operators and stakeholders within the community of small Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS), or drones.
The agreement will see NATS and ARPAS UK working together to promote the safe use of small RPAS to maximise their potential applications, while at the same time protecting other airspace users.
The popularity of small RPAS has soared in recent years, with hundreds of thousands sold in the run up to Christmas alone. Increasingly these are very capable small aircraft, with some able to reach heights of up to 2,000ft.
The commercial use of RPAS is tightly regulated with specific qualifications and permissions required to operate, however it is very easy to buy and use one without any training or knowledge of the airspace rules.
While incidents involving drones in controlled airspace remain rare, NATS and ARPAS UK believe it is important to help RPAS operators to understand their responsibilities as pilots. Those that don’t could potentially face criminal prosecution.
James Harvey, NATS Small RPAS Safety Lead, said:
“There is no doubt that this is an exciting and growing industry. Drones are now both incredibly popular consumer gadgets as well as potential business tools. By working together with ARPAS UK we want to encourage the growth of the industry, but to also ensure that’s done in a safe and integrated way.”
Philip Tarry, Chairman of ARPAS UK, comments:
“This new agreement will improve the communication within the industry and encourage an attitude of information dissemination for the greater good. ARPAS UK is delighted to have formed this safety partnership with NATS and we look forward to fostering this relationship throughout 2015.”