Britain said it would ban drones from flying above 400 feet and within one kilometre of airport boundaries to reduce the possibility of damage to windows and engines of planes.
The number of drone incidents with aircraft has risen year-on-year from just six in 2014 to 93 in 2017, the government said, and new laws were needed to ensure drones were used safely and responsibly.
“We are seeing fast growth in the numbers of drones being used, both commercially and for fun,” aviation minister Elizabeth Sugg said on Wednesday.
“Whilst we want this industry to innovate and grow, we need to protect planes, helicopters and their passengers from the increasing numbers of drones in our skies.”
Drone users who flout the restrictions, which will come into effect on July 30, could be charged with recklessly or negligently acting in a manner likely to endanger an aircraft or any person in an aircraft. The 400-feet restriction applies to all areas, not just around airports.
Offenders could be given an unlimited fine, up to five years in prison, or both.
The law will be tightened again in November 2019 when owners of drones weighing 250 grammes or more will have to register with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and drone pilots will have to take an online safety test, the government said.