You may not have realised that it’s even become a problem, but clearly some countries are facing an unwanted epidemic of drunken drone operators, and in Japan, politicians have taken matters into their hands by issuing a blanket ban on drone flying while under the influence of alcohol.
After a spate of nasty accidents in which drone pilots were found to be flying irresponsibly while under the influence of alcohol, the lower house of parliament in Japan passed the new legislation. If caught operating a drone while over the legal limit, pilots could see themselves serving a year long sentence in jail. Those found flying a drone weighing more than 200 grams while under the influence of alcohol, could also face fines of up to 300,000 yen or a whopping $2,750, not an amount to be sniffed at.
Ministry officials in the country are reputed to have said that they consider drone flying while over the legal limit, to be a crime as serious as driving a vehicle while drunk.
New drone regulations to hit both natives and tourists:
Drone use for recreational purposes is on the rise all over the world, and many countries are coming up against the problem of irresponsible pilots causing any number of controversial incidents. An issue repeatedly affecting Japan in particular, is that of tourists flying their drones in and around travel hotspots like Kyoto. Lawmakers were recently forced to ban the flying of drones over the Tokyo 2020 Olympic sites and U.S. military facilities.
While the flying of drones in certain areas and being drunk at the controls are recurring problems for regulatory bodies, stunt pilots are proving to be equally as troublesome. Recent regulations have been put in place to try and prevent drone operators from performing dangerous stunts such as ‘sharp plunges’, which can present a very real threat to the public. Fines of up to 500,000 yen face those caught at the helm of a stunt drone.
Do drone pilots in Japan need a license?
While some locations in Japan are currently out of bounds to drone operators, such as nuclear power plants and parliament buildings, however, a license is not required to fly a drone. That said, pilots must abide by a set of national regulations, some of which can be seen below:
- Not flying within a certain perimeter of airports
- Avoiding areas that are crowded with people
- Flying only during the hours of daylight
- Flying the drone at a height not exceeding 150 m
- Ensuring that the drone can always be seen by the operator
Failure to comply with any of the above regulations could see pilots facing fines of up to 500,000 yen, or even a prison sentence for multiple or repeated offences.
It’s clear that the increased use of drones for both professional and recreational purposes has given regulatory boards the world over, plenty of food for thought and plenty of opportunities to clamp down on irresponsible pilots.