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Bill to modernise airspace and tackle illegal use of unmanned aircraft receives Royal Assent

Powers to decarbonise aviation infrastructure granted as part of Air Traffic Management and Unmanned Aircraft Bill.

  • Air Traffic Management and Unmanned Aircraft (ATMUA) Bill becomes law
  • Transport Secretary given further powers to drive down carbon emissions through airspace modernisation
  • police granted powers to ensure skies remain safe and secure from disruption and illegal use of drone technology

The Air Traffic Management and Unmanned Aircraft (ATMUA) Bill, designed to modernise airspace and clamp down on the illegal use of unmanned aircraft, has today (29 April 2020) received Royal Assent.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has been granted a range of additional powers to help enhance and decarbonise the country’s aviation infrastructure.

The new law means airports that don’t implement changes quickly enough could be directed to modernise their airspace, helping deliver quicker, quieter and cleaner journeys.

Modernising the use of UK airspace through the re-routing of existing flight paths will play a vital role in the government’s plans to build back greener from the pandemic, generating lower CO2 emissions from flights while also reducing noise pollution and improving punctuality for passengers.

Grant Shapps Transport Secretary yesterday said:

As we emerge from the pandemic, we want to build a world-leading aviation system that prioritises passenger experience and the use of innovative technologies to drive sustainable growth.

These additional powers will help reduce aviation emissions, improve flight efficiency and capitalise on the exciting opportunities drones offer while clamping down on misuse and disruption.

Robert Courts Aviation Minister yesterday said:

This Act will allow us to take the next steps towards modernising the UK airspace, cutting carbon emissions in line with our ambitious net zero targets and making flights quicker, quieter and cleaner.

The Act will also support the safe practice of drone technology by giving police officers the necessary powers to tackle illegal misuse. This will include issuing fixed penalty notices, mandating a person to land an unmanned aircraft and introducing stop and search powers where offences involving an unmanned aircraft have been committed.

The Transport Secretary has also been granted temporary powers to waive the rule, which requires airlines to operate 80% of their flights in order to retain their airport slots. This means airlines will be provided with much-needed flexibility in choosing to not run flights, preventing high-cost and carbon-inefficient ‘ghost flights’ from taking place during periods of low air travel.

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