Hong Kong to refine regulation as complaints against drones double in 2 yrs

Updated 2018-05-17 13:30:00 Xinhua

The number of complaints against drone operations received by Hong Kong's aviation authority more than doubled in 2017 compared with two years ago, latest figures from the aviation authority showed.

According to figures provided Wednesday by the Civil Aviation Department (CAD) of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government, the number of complaints the CAD received against operations of drones, formally called "unmanned aircraft system" (UAS) was 60 in 2017, compared with 47 in 2016 and 27 in 2015.

In a written reply to questions asked by a member of the HKSAR Legislative Council, the CAD revealed that complaints in 2017 mainly involved "UAS being operated at an inappropriate time, location and/or height."

In addition, nine out of the 60 complaints in 2017 concerned or involved privacy-related issues, it said.

Under current safety guidelines of the CAD, UASs shall not be flown in areas such as populated and congested areas, the Hong Kong International Airport, helipads, Victoria Harbor and its coastal area.

"In 2017, the CAD received 41 complaints related to UAS operations in areas specified in the above mentioned safety guidelines," it said.

The CAD said it will take appropriate follow-up actions upon receipt of complaints, and will refer the complaint cases to the police for follow up when needed.

In the past three years the police has initiated prosecution on two cases concerning UAS operations. The offender of one case, which took place in 2017, was convicted, while the other case, which took place in 2016, is under trial.

In recent years, while UASs have become increasingly versatile, the privacy and safety issues arising from the operation of UASs have aroused growing concern in Hong Kong.

At present, there is no specific regulation on the use of UASs in Hong Kong and they are classified as aircraft and governed by civil aviation legislation.

To "refine" Hong Kong's regulation of UASs, the CAD said it has engaged a consultant in March 2017 to conduct a study and launched last month a three-month public consultation on six key proposals regarding the UAS regulatory regime.

"The CAD will study the public's views in consultation with relevant government bureaux/departments, with the aim of striking an appropriate balance between facilitating usage and development of UAS on the one hand and protecting public safety on the other," the department said.

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