Fly your drones safely this Christmas, CAA chief pleads, warning that the popular present can affect air ambulances – which are expected to make 1,000 life-saving missions this year

  • Drone pilots were urged by aviation chiefs to use drones safely and be aware of air ambulances 
  • An emergency helicopter located within 30ft from a midair drone collision was spotted in October 
  • Over Christmas, air ambulances will make approximately 1,000 lifesaving flights
  • Thousands of drones will be available for sale during the holiday period.

The chiefs of aviation are urging people to safely fly drones in order to safeguard low-flying air medical vehicles, which will be performing around 1,000 lifesaving operations during this holiday period.

Jonathan Nicholson was the Civil Aviation Authority’s assistant director for communications. He asked users of drones to stay alert and fly safely in order to avoid low-flying air ambulances.

With thousands expected drone gifts for Christmas this year, Nicholson stated that there are more than 400,000 drone owners in the UK. He also said, “With many drone owners already registered, with more to come during Christmas,”. We ask all drone users to use safety and be aware of low-flying helicopters. 

In the last ten years there have been nearly 500 near misses between aircraft and drones, including up to 125 within a single year.

Drone flying is often performed by air ambulances at a height of 400 feet.

Aviation chiefs have urged drone users to take care when flying. Earlier this year an air ambulance in Leicestershire avoided a mid-air collision with a drone by just 30 feet. Pictured: A Cornwall air ambulance takes off

Chiefs of aviation have warned drone pilots to be careful. A drone crashed into an ambulance flying in Leicestershire earlier this year. The incident was only 30 feet away. Pictured: An air ambulance from Cornwall takes off 

A spokeswoman for leading drone company Direct Drones told MailOnline they expected to sell 'thousands' of the popular present at Christmas (File image)

MailOnline was told by a spokesperson for the leading drone manufacturer Direct Drones that they expect to sell thousands of popular Christmas presents (File photo).

Air ambulances were able to escape a midair collision only by being 30ft above the ground in Leicestershire, October.

The drone was spotted by the pilot of the helicopter, but he had to take off quickly to keep it from hitting him.

Only 30 feet above the ambulance, the drone was white and called a ‘quadcopter. 

How does UK law address flying drones in public? 

You can avoid collisions between drones and airliners by following a few rules.

Drones cannot be higher than 400ft in height, and must stay at least 164ft away from buildings, cars or people.

The Drone and Model Aircraft Code also says drones can’t go near airports or crowds at public events without special permission.

Some key elements of the UK’s drone rules that users need to follow are:

  • Never fly higher than 400 feet (120m).
  • Always keep your drone in sight
  • Avoid flying near airports and airfields.
  • Register at the CAA to become a drone pilot and pass the FlyerID test
  • Follow the Dronecode

 Source: CAA (

“In most cases, drones and helicopters can fly below 400ft. However, a drone operator is more likely to spot and hear an approaching helicopter.

“So we ask drone owners in such situations to keep drones away from land and land as much as possible.

“They will then be able to ensure that helicopters capable of saving lives can safely operate.”

According to the CAA, air ambulance charity charities in the UK are expected to carry out around 1000 life-saving flights during December. There will be a total of approximately 180 crew and 40 helicopters operating each day.

Some drones have the ability to hold cameras that can take incredible aerial shots of landscape and events

A few drones can hold cameras and take amazing aerial photos of events or landscapes.

People with severe illness or sudden critical injury can receive pre-hospital emergency treatment by air ambulance.

Simmy Akhtar is the chief of Air Ambulances UK. He stated: “Air ambulance charities across the UK continued to provide vital lifesaving services for those in dire need of prehospital critical care during the pandemic.

“Now is the time for drone owners to help out our air ambulance charities during this festive season.

By being familiar with the CAA’s drone regulations, everyone at home can contribute to keeping Christmas safe.