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Responsible Drone Operation Near Emergency Helicopters Urged by UK Civil Aviation Authority

In recent times, the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has issued a call for responsible drone operation, emphasizing the importance of avoiding flying drones in close proximity to emergency service helicopters attending incidents. This initiative comes as a response to a series of cases where drones have disrupted emergency helicopter flights, including air ambulances.

Working in collaboration with the Yorkshire Air Ambulance, the CAA has developed a new video guide to educate drone operators on the risks associated with flying near emergency helicopters and the potential consequences it can have on their ability to assist critically ill patients. In 2022, emergency service helicopters reported 13 incidents in which pilots felt that drones had come too close to their aircraft.

Six of these incidents occurred in the vicinity of the Royal London Hospital helipad. Additionally, in the past 12 months, critical flights of the Yorkshire Air Ambulance have been affected by drones on five occasions.

Jonathan Nicholson, a spokesperson for the CAA, highlighted the organization's support for the growth of drones in the UK, recognizing their potential, even for recreational use. However, he stressed the need for drone operators to exercise common sense and prioritize safety, especially near emergency situations where drone use for recording incidents has been found to cause delays in air ambulance operations.

The CAA strongly recommended that if a drone user spots or hears a helicopter operating in their vicinity, the safest course of action is to land the drone and allow the other aircraft to pass. Additionally, most drone users will be required to register as drone operators and complete an online competency test on the Civil Aviation Authority's website.

Responsible drone operation is a crucial aspect of ensuring the safety and effectiveness of emergency services, and the CAA's guidance aims to strike a balance between promoting drone use and protecting the welfare of those in critical need of medical assistance.

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