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Drone safety advice

The coastguard is keen to keep up dialogue with local drone operators.

Photo: Shetland News

AN EVENT is being held on Friday to give local drone enthusiasts more information on how to use their devices safely while being mindful of the Sumburgh based coastguard helicopter.

The drone safety day, which is private and by invite-only, will take place at the search and rescue hangar at Sumburgh Airport.

It incidentally comes after London’s busy Gatwick Airport was brought to a standstill before Christmas after drones were said to have been sighted near to the runway.

Flying drones is becoming increasingly popular in Shetland as more people take aerial photographs and videos of the local landscape.

It is against the law to fly drones over 400ft, while they have to be flown away from aircraft, airports and airfields.

Anyone using drones on a commercial basis needs a licence from the Civil Aviation Authority, which gives them certain exemptions including being able to fly closer to people or property within congested areas such as towns and villages.

Chief pilot at the Sumburgh search and rescue helicopter base Stuart Cunliffe said Shetland’s regular drone users have already been in touch with the coastguard crew.

“We are in regular contact with a local group of drone enthusiasts, who initially sought advice from us and have kept us informed of their activities,” he said.

“This kind of engagement is really important from a flight safety perspective, and we are thankful to this local group for their proactivity in letting us know of their plans.

“Welcoming them to the base is a natural next step, as it allows us to continue two-way dialogue with them in person. We can educate them on how they can avoid any conflict with UKSAR or other flight activity, helping to ensure they have a full understanding of what we do, and the correct procedures which need to be followed.

“It also allows us to ask them about their activities and aircraft, and take any learnings we can from their visit.”

More information on airspace restrictions for unmanned aircraft and drones can be found on the Civil Aviation Authority website.