Last month, UK officials announced plans to extend the no-fly zone around airports from the current radius of 1km / 0.6mi to 5km / 3mi. The change is in response to the Christmas 2018 Gatwick airport drone incident, during which time more than 140,000 passengers were impacted and more than 1,000 flights were disrupted. The change will go into effect tomorrow, March 13, 2019.

Though the precise threat small drones present to large aircraft remains unknown, a growing body of evidence suggests a mid-air collision between the two could potentially be catastrophic. No-fly zones aim to prevent these close calls, but many drone operators have been caught ignoring regulations.

Gatwick airport no-fly zone via

In February 2018, a video was published showing a small UAV flying within close proximity of a passenger jet near the McCarran Airport in Las Vegas, for example. From February 2014 to April 2018, the US FAA had received 6,117 reports of drones being operated within an unsafe distance of manned aircraft, and Bloomberg reported in February 2018 that a small drone had struck a helicopter mid-flight, ultimately resulting in a crash.

Increasing the no-fly zone around airports will make it possible to use anti-drone technology to take down unwanted UAVs before they get too close to the facilities and runways. According to a report from BBC in January, the UK's Heathrow Airport had been testing anti-drone systems before the Gatwick incident, but it's unclear whether a permanent solution has been installed at either airport.

UK drone owners can view no-fly zones in the nation using the website.