The use of drones is rapidly expanding around the world with an estimated 4,000 to 5,000 in Ireland. Currently, only a handful of countries in the EU have legislation in place governing their use.
From Monday, all drones weighing 1kg or more must be registered with the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA).
To register a drone, the registrant must be 16 years of age or older. Drones operated by those under 16 years of age must be registered by a parent or legal guardian. A nominal fee of €5 will apply from February but this has been initially waived by the IAA in order to encourage early registration.
The new legislation prohibits users from operating their drones in an unsafe manner. This includes never operating a drone:
- If it will be a hazard to another aircraft in flight;
- Over an assembly of people;
- Farther than 300m from the operator;
- Within 120m of any person, vessel or structure not under the operator’s control;
- Closer than 5km from an aerodrome;
- In a negligent or reckless manner so as to endanger life or property of others
- Over 120m above ground level;
- Over urban areas;
- In civil or military controlled airspace;
- In restricted areas (e.g. military installations, prisons, etc);
- Unless the operator has permission from the landowner for takeoff and landing.
IAA director of safety regulation Ralph James said the legislation would further enhance safety within Ireland and specifically addresses the safety challenges posed by drones.
“Ireland is already recognised worldwide as a centre of excellence for civil aviation and the drone sector presents another major opportunity for Ireland,” said Mr Jones. “We’re closely working with industry to facilitate its successful development here. At the same time, safety is our top priority and we must ensure that drones are used in a safe way and that they do not interfere with all other forms of aviation.”
Mr James said the requirement to register a drone will help the IAA to monitor the sector in the years ahead.
“We would strongly encourage drone operators to register with us as quickly as possible, to complete a training course and to become aware of their responsibilities,” he said. “People operating drones must do so in safe and responsible manner and in full compliance with the new regulations.”
Transport minister Paschal Donohoe said Ireland was well placed to exploit the growing drone sector and that legislation would ensure it was safe and regulated.
“Tremendous potential exists for this sector and Ireland is at the forefront of its development,” said Mr Donohoe. “The speedy response by the IAA to this fast-developing aviation area will make sure that drones are properly regulated and registered for use.
“As a result, Ireland is well placed to exploit the drone sector and to ensure industry growth in this area.”