EU aviation groups want all drones to be registered

DJI drone Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The EU bodies want drone software to prevent them from flying in certain areas - a feature already implemented by some drone makers

A string of aviation associations has called for all small drones in Europe to be registered.

The ability to trace nuisance drones back to their owner or pilot would improve compliance with regulations, the groups said in a joint statement.

Near-misses involving drones and aircraft are on the rise - 10 UK cases risked collision this year, according to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

US users must already register drones weighing more than half a pound (228g).

A total of 10 associations in the EU have made the call, including the European Cockpit Association and the International Air Transport Association.

"The recreational use of drones is rapidly increasing, and the related risk of incidents and accidents with manned aviation must be mitigated," the bodies said.

Safety risks associated with drones were often underestimated, they added.

Prevention not detection

The UK's CAA has not joined calls for a drone register.

"Our overall aim is to prevent any kind of conflict in the air from happening in the first place," a spokesman told the BBC.

"Registration has advantages, but it's a complicated decision to make about what the benefits of registration are."

But registration could be used as a means to ensure drones are safe to use, according to Stephan Appt at law firm Pinsent Masons.

"You can also obviously attach some requirements to the registration which could be evidence of technical security, that everything that needs to be checked has been or that the device can land properly if there is an emergency," he told the BBC.

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Media captionWhat are the rules for drone use in the UK?

Besides registration, the European and international bodies are also requesting that drones be equipped with altitude and distance restricting software preventing them from entering sensitive airspace - a feature known as "geofencing".

Some drone makers, including DJI, already include such technology in their products, but there is no universal requirement to do so.

The British government has planned a consultation on drones and regulation that will take place later this year.

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