Phantom Drone
Phantom Drone Robert Lynch/Public Domain

While the U.S. relaxes drone regulations, the U.K. government announced Saturday users will have to register their unmanned aircrafts and take safety awareness tests.

The U.K. said users need to register their drone to “improve accountability and encourage owners to act responsibly.”

Those who own drones that weigh 250 grams (about half a pound) or more will need to register details of the gadgets. Owners will be able register their drones online or through apps, the government said. Users will also be required to take a drone safety awareness test to prove they comprehend U.K. safety and privacy rules.

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The new rules come after a recent study said drones weighing 400 grams could damage windscreens of helicopters. Airliner windscreens are much stronger, the study found. It would take a drone weighing 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) to critically damage an airliner’s windscreen, and only if the plane is flying at a high speed, not while it’s taking off or landing.

“By registering drones, introducing safety awareness tests to educate users we can reduce the inadvertent breaching of airspace restrictions to protect the public,” said Aviation Minister Martin Callanan in released statement.

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The U.K. is also expanding its use of geo-fencing, which will prevent drones from entering areas like airports or prisons. The U.K. government noted that drones can have its benefits to the public, businesses and emergency services.

“Increasingly, drones are proving vital for inspecting transport infrastructure for repair or aiding police and fire services in search and rescue operations, even helping to save lives,” said Callanan. “But like all technology, drones too can be misused.”

The government, along with the U.K.’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), came up with a drone code last year.

The code tells users to:

  • always keep your drone in sight

  • stay below 400 feet (120 metres) to comply with the drone code

  • every time you fly your drone you must follow the manufacturer’s instructions

  • keep the right distance from people and property

  • you are responsible for each flight

  • stay well away from aircraft, airports and airfields

Meanwhile, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration announced this month it is refunding registration fees to those who use their drones as a hobby. The move comes after a U.S. Appeals Court in the D.C. circuit said the FAA drone registration violated a 2012 law passed by Congress.

In May, the FAA said over 820,000 operators registered their aircraft. The applications were $5 each, which means the administration received more than $4 million in fees. However, some commercial drone operators still have to be certified.

Although the FAA is giving people back their money, it still recommends users to register their drones.