Leader comment: Punish rogue users of drones

There's nothing to stop unqualified users from flying a drone. Picture: Michael Gillen

There's nothing to stop unqualified users from flying a drone. Picture: Michael Gillen

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Every week we discover a new example of the wonders of drones.

It might be a practical use, such as the fight against crime, or aerial photography bringing us stunning images and new perspectives of the landscape. But we also learn of an increasing number of safety scares.

The UK Airprox Board, which deals with near misses, yesterday said a plane on approach to Glasgow Airport nearly collided with a drone earlier this year.

The pilot of the Boeing 737 reported seeing a drone about 100ft below him.

The incident happened while the plane was flying at about 1,200ft, north of Clydebank.

According to report, the pilot did not have time to take evasive action.

It was luck alone that an incident which carried “a definite risk of collision” did not develop into anything more serious.

The incident underlines the importance of getting to grips with this before some more serious does occur.

There are training courses for drone use, but the existence of those courses does not stop anyone unqualified from launching a drone into the sky.

And what goes up, must come down – potentially at a great speed and out of control.

The increasing number of reports of drones on flight paths is a serious worry.

It is against the odds that a drone is going to bring down an aircraft, but the risk is always there, with broken parts jamming an engine.

Policing drone use is virtually impossible, but for those caught using a drone irresponsibly, the penalty should be high to provide an effective deterrent for others.

An awareness campaign is also necessary, so that irresponsible use becomes taboo.

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