Warning to Drone Users

From Jersey Airport,
30 July 2018


In recent weeks Ports of Jersey has received reports of two near-misses involving drones and approaching aircraft. This has led to airport authorities once again urging drone operators to adhere to the operating guidelines and safety legislation in place or risk prosecution. 

The two incidents over the airfield with one involving a commercial passenger aircraft and the other a large corporate jet. Both pilots reported a drone only a few hundred metres from the aircraft while on final approach to the Airport. This period of the flight is one of the most challenging for any pilot, as the aircraft is vulnerable due to its low speed and proximity to the ground. Therefore, anything that can cause disruption to this process, whether it's a bird or a drone could potentially be catastrophic.

Chief Operating Officer and Airport Director, Stephen Driscoll, says, "It is an offence to fly a drone within 2 nautical miles of the airport or higher than 400 feet without prior permission from Jersey's Air Traffic Control. Both of these near misses have been reported to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the Director of Civil Aviation (DCA) and Jersey Police who are investigating. While it is not known if the intrusion was deliberate, drone users should be aware of the potential catastrophic impact as a result of their inappropriate actions."

Ports of Jersey recognises and welcomes the increasing rise in drone usage, which can lead to some spectacular aerial footage, nowadays often used for commercial purposes. It has published a set of guidelines, including safety measures, which drone users must adopt and available to view online . The team is also happy to provide additional guidance and clarification by email (atc@ports.je) should potential users require it. While the majority of users abide by these measures airport authorities are reminding users that it only takes one infringement to cause a major incident.

Although these specific incidents relate to activity at the Airport, Ports of Jersey and the States of Jersey Police are also concerned having also received reports of drones flying over congested areas of St Helier, in particular over secure parts of the harbour and marinas at places where the discharging of fuel tankers frequently takes place.  This activity is also illegal under both the Air Navigation and the Maritime Security Orders, which can be found online at Air Navigation and Maritime Security

On behalf of the States of Jersey Police, Chief Inspector Mark Coxshall said, "The benefits attached to using drone technology are clear and at times can provide valuable assistance to the work of blue light services. Equally through, the clear risks associated to operating drones outside of the law and guidance offered by our partners, Ports of Jersey, can be a serious matter. Anything that could compromise the safety of the public will always attract our attention and working closely with partners we hope to avoid such eventualities". 

Mr Driscoll recently attended an industry workshop in the UK along with the Department for Transport and the Airport Operators Association (AOPA) during which time discussion took place relating to new legislation to protect flight safety as the use of drones is presenting a significant risk to aircraft globally.

Although it is assumed not all incidents are reported, Ports of Jersey has referred over 20 different types of drone incidents to the States of Jersey Police over the past 3-years.

Due to the current investigations no further details of the recent incidents are being disclosed at this time.