NEW signs telling people about safe and unsafe drone launch points are to go up in Flintshire’s flying hotspots that are in the vicinity of Hawarden Airport.

The warning signs are expected to be put up in parks, plots of open land, and areas where drones are commonly flown to remind pilots of their safety responsibilities.

In February 2019, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) introduced new rules restricting the use of drones within an approximate 2.5 nautical mile radius of all airports, with a further controlled area extending 5km from both ends of the runway.

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These restricted fly zones extend to a height of 2,000 foot, with any pilot seeking to go above that requiring permission from the CAA.

With those regulations, signs are expected to go up in areas including Queensferry, Sandycroft, Mancot, Sealand, Hawarden, Saltney and Broughton, while also extending over the border into places such as Blacon and Balderton.

In a further crackdown on the irresponsible use of drones by the CAA, all pilots owning drones weighing more than 250 grams must be registered with the owner having to complete an online test to ensure they understand basic safety guidelines.

It is hoped that the new signage – which aim to inform people that they are in a controlled flying zone - will help to protect aircraft flying in and out of Hawarden Aerodrome, as well as improve drone safety within local communities.

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The 'No Drone Zone' sign that is expected to go up in various Flintshire towns

The signs will also include details on how people can seek permission to fly drones and information on how suspicious drone activity can be reported.

Over the past couple of months Airbus has been going out to local communities to raise awareness of the new CAA regulations and reinforcing their commitment to safety at the aerodrome.

Representatives from Airbus recently showed the new signs – that are expected to start going up in Spring this year - to councillors at the Queensferry Community Council meeting.

Following the Airbus presentation, aviation enthusiast, Cllr Graham Coppack, said: “I’ve lived in Sandycroft my whole life and remember Hawarden Airport when it was small.

“But now, with the Beluga coming in, it’s a bigger and busier airport than ever before. And with aircraft using Instrument Landing Systems (ILS) to land at Hawarden, you can imagine the carnage if drones were flying around there at the same time.

“I think the signs are a good thing for the area because then people will be aware of the safety regulations.”

Mathew Ierston, Airbus Aviation Compliance Manager, added: “Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and drones are constantly evolving and providing huge benefits across nearly all industries, so it is crucial that we support their safe integration into our airspace and promote best practice to both hobbyists and professional drone pilots.

"The message is: 'If you are unsure, ask!' There is a great amount of good advice on the CAA’s website and, as an airport, we can advise if you are in a restricted zone and what permissions you will require to operate safely and legally.”

Further consultations will now take place before a mapping exercise is used to determine the most suitable locations for the signs.