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Drone pilot ‘spoken to’ by police after flying device over flats

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AN amateur drone pilot had to be spoken to by police last weekend after flying his device over an apartment building.

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On Sunday, States police officers were called to Westmount, where a 52-year-old man was found in control of the miniature aircraft. He was given ‘words of advice’ and allowed to leave.

The Channel Islands’ director of civil aviation, Dominic Lazarus, says that he no longer intends to introduce more stringent legislation – including a mandatory pilot register – after a much lower than expected number of incidents last year.

‘I was concerned that we could have had a few incidents during the summer but maybe the issues they had at Gatwick were a blessing in disguise. I will be looking over everything again this summer when people start to fly their drones again,’ he said.

Last year, hundreds of flights to and from Gatwick had to be cancelled after a suspected drone was spotted in and around the airfield.

‘We are in a reasonable position and I am quite optimistic. We did have one incident over town recently but it was not serious. It was just an education issue.

‘I am content with where we are but we are constantly monitoring things and if there is a spike in incidents we will consider enacting tougher legislation.’

In June last year, flights were prevented from leaving Jersey Airport for around 45 minutes after the pilot of a private aircraft reported having to take evasive action to avoid a drone as he took off. The pilot of the drone was never traced and no further action was taken.

However, Mr Lazarus, a former Cathay Pacific senior captain, added that there had been no other serious incidents and said he thought people were now taking drone safety more seriously.

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‘People have become very aware. Two years ago, every Christmas stocking had a drone in it but people have now become a lot more responsible,’ he said.

‘We are all for people flying drones but we want them to be responsible. We want to keep the laws as simple as possible and not have to enact harsher laws.

He added: ‘We have got some really good approved commercial operators here who do photography for real estate, tourism and events like the Battle of Flowers and the Super League Triathlon. They help us a lot and let us know about anything of concern.’

Ed Taylor

By Ed Taylor
Journalist

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