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Drone operators to be tested and registered

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UK drone users will face fines of up to £1000 ($A1870) if they fly their device without passing an online theory test or registering as an operator, regulators have warned.

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Children and adults wanting to fly the gadgets from November 30 will have to take the test to show they can do so “safely and legally”.

Those who fail or do not register as a drone operator by that date will face a fine of up to £1000 under new regulations from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

The registration scheme opens on Tuesday and applies to anyone responsible for a drone or unmanned aircraft such as a model plane weighing at least 250g.

Registrants will be given a unique ID which must be displayed on their devices.

The process will cost £9 ($A17) and must be renewed each year.

From November 30 it will become mandatory for people to register as a drone operator and for them to pass a theory test of 20 multiple choice questions.

Department store John Lewis stopped selling drones in May because of the chaos they are causing at airports.

Drone sightings at Gatwick in December last year caused around 1000 flights to be cancelled or diverted over 36 hours, affecting more than 140,000 passengers in the run-up to Christmas.

A number of other airports have been forced to suspend flights for several hours due to drone activity this year, including Heathrow.

Air safety figures show there were 125 near-misses between drones and aircraft reported in 2018, up by more than a third from 93 the previous year.

In March, the drone no-fly zone around airports was extended from 1km to 5km.

Dr Rob Hunter, head of flight safety at airline pilots’ union Balpa, said encouraging responsible drone use is “desperately needed to ensure a collision between an aircraft and a drone is avoided”.

-AAP

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