The Civil Aviation Authority is considering yet another commercial drone operator licence (“Permission for Commercial Operations” aka PfCO) fee hike of 272% in just 2 years. This proposal comes at a time when the CAA is under increased criticism for its lack of action to protect both the public and professional drone pilots who have been losing business to illegal, uninsured operators for years.
The government is keen for a post-Brexit UK to be seen as a world leader in drone technology and drone operations are being touted as a way to stimulate the UK economy as aerial drone services can dramatically reduce companies costs.
However, the last thing the fragile UK drone industry needs is profiteering by an organisation which has consistently failed to protect professional remote pilots and allows un-licensed operators to work without fear of prosecution. The internet forums are already buzzing with angry Drone pilots openly asking what is the point of remaining legal?
As there is virtually no chance of the CAA prosecuting them, some law-abiding UAV pilots are now considering operating totally illegally just so they can stay in business and compete with the rogue traders. Sadly this reaction is even more understandable when you consider how the CAA proposes to use the extra 300k raised from the 3500 UK Drone operators… They state that they will use the funds to “reduce application turnaround times” – i.e to make their own income stream more efficient, whilst doing absolutely nothing to pursue illegal and uninsured operators.
It’s a sad state of affairs – can you imagine what would happen if the Gas Safe Register body operated in the same way? We have one of the safest domestic gas industries in the world precisely because the Gas Safe register both inspects its registered engineers and investigates illegal gas work. Sadly, when it comes to Drones, the CAA simply isn’t following the Gas Safe model.
The CAA’s proposed increased charges consultation can be seen and commented on at the following link: https://consultations.caa.co.uk/finance/caa-charges-2018-19/
The UK desperately needs the CAA to stop looking to its profits and start prosecuting dangerous rogue flyers. How long before there is serious loss of life because the CAA isn’t doing its job protecting the industry and the public?
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