Originally published by The Telegraph of London:
Background checks should be required to buy a drone, a professor has told MPs as he warned it’s “an inevitability” one would bring down a plane without tougher rules.
Prof. David Dunn said people were currently allowed to buy “potentially lethal” drones off the shelf and the authorities had “no idea where they go”.
The academic from the University of Birmingham, who is a leading expert on drones, also warned that the sky was becoming so cluttered with the devices it was now “pure chance” one had not caused an air accident.
His comments came as he appeared in front of the Parliamentary Science and Technology Select Committee, which is investigating drone use in the UK.
Collision is “Inevitability”
Prof Dunn argued a system of licensing drones would allow the police to better identify potential terrorist and criminal users, and likened the UK’s current rules to lax gun laws in the US.
You can go an buy a gun (in the US) and not have any training and that is where we are in the UK right now.
These things are potentially lethal and we are allowing people to buy them off the shelf without any background checks, without any licensing and without any idea of where they go thereafter.
The Government is bringing tighter regulations around drones later this year, after sightings of the devices shut down Gatwick Airport for three days in December.
From November, people who fly drones will have to pass a competency test and also register any drones weighing over 250g.
However, Prof Dunn warned that the drone industry risked a “Hindenburg moment”, citing the 1937 air disaster which shattered confidence in passenger airships, if it did not embrace tighter checks and regulations.
The sky is becoming increasingly cluttered and most of the people I do research with say that a collision with a drone leading to a loss of life is an inevitability in the next five years.
Avoiding an aircraft coming down now is pure chance rather than any luck or judgement on the part of regulatory framework.