Are You Clear for Take-off?

In 2013 Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced plans for ‘Amazon Air’.   The plan was that small packages under 5 pounds in weight would be delivered up to 10 miles from the warehouses.  Whilst as of the time of writing, this has yet to launch, it undoubtedly piqued the public interest in drones.

Drone technology obviously is not, and was not in 2013, new technology.  From the dark days of the first world war unmanned aircraft have been actively developed for military use, but from a consumer standpoint drones as we know them were little more than toys.  Hard to accurately fly and hampered by weather conditions.  Following Amazon’s 2013 announcement public interest in hobbyist and commercially applied use of drones has increased exponentially.

Commercial estimates are that the global market for UAV’s will reach over $21 billion USD (over £17 billion at the time of writing). This is all good news for industry and the future of logistics.


Even at the time of the announcement made by Amazon in 2013, the Federal Aviation Administration had already introduced regulation on the operation of drones, especially those used in the commercial sector. These mainly revolved around altitude and speed. However, aside from the obvious airspace restriction around airports, little enforcement of regulations globally existed.

In December 2018, 1,000 flights were disrupted at Gatwick Airport as reports of Drone sightings near the runway were made. Whilst no prosecutions were made, the disruptions cost millions of pounds and caused delays to 140,000 travellers. This and further incidents highlighted the need for more regulation by the Civil Aviation Authority and enforcement powers by police.

On November 30th 2019 new regulation will come into effect and any Drone over 250 grams in weight must be registered with the CAA to operate. An online competency test will also be compulsory to sit. Failure to adhere to these new rules could result in fines of up to £1,000. Police are also getting additional powers to issue fixed penalty notices of £100 for minor offences involving drones.

So if you currently operate drones as part of your commercial activity or are planning to be part of the drone revolution now is the time to familiarise yourself with the new regulations and make sure you have adequate insurance protection in place then you should be clear for take-off!

For more information contact Darren Jeffries, Business Development Manager, Ratcliffe Insurance Brokers 01242 544548


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