AVIATION safety chiefs are set to exempt toy drones from strict rules that could land parents with a hefty fine this Christmas.
Remote-controlled quadcopters – commonly referred to as drones – are one of the hit toys this Christmas with thousands of the machines set to be unwrapped on December 25.
But even tiny toy drones made of foam and costing as little as £30 are subject to Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) rules which mean they cannot be flown within 50 metres of a building.
Breaking the rule could land the offender with a £5,000 fine.
A CAA spokesman yesterday confirmed they were considering a rule change, although it is unlikely to happen before Christmas.
He said: “With devices weighing less than a kilogramme there are much smaller safety risks and the CAA is considering introducing an exemption for these very small devices in the near future.
“These are typically hand held devices and the toy end of the market.”
He added: “I don’t think we will do it before Christmas.”
Riccardo De Felice, owner of Marionville Models in Edinburgh,said there has been a “boom” in the drone business.
“On Christmas day the skies will be black,” he said.
“The thing with drones is you can buy one from £20 to £1,000. The size of the market is huge.”
He said the CAA is facing an increasingly difficult task keeping up with developments.
“The drone market didn’t exist 20 years ago,” he said.
“Some are so small and light if you get hit by one it isn’t going to injure you. It isn’t going to be pleasant but it’s not a big deal.”
He said an exception for devices under 1kg would be a “clever move” as the law as it stands would be unenforceable.
“There will be no arrests of little Johnny on Christmas day,” he said, although technically many children will be on the wrong side of the law.
He continued: “Even a multirotor made from foam flying in a congested area is technically breaking the law.
“I’m sure the CAA will do the right thing in the end. This would definitely be a step in the right direction.”