They've gone from an expensive piece of aviation equipment to a children's toy. Now, the recent popularity of drones in our skies has caused concern among pilots and airport bosses.
Last year there were nearly a hundred near misses involving a drone and an aircraft, some of which have been just yards from the cockpit.
Drone incidents at region's biggest airports last year:
Now the government has brought in tough new laws to try and protect passengers.
Our Transport Correspondent Mike Pearse reports:
Visiting Gatwick Airport, the Aviation Minister was hearing first hand the dangers of flying drones near planes. Pilots have long said the consequences could be catastrophic. With serious near-misses on the rise, there's growing cause for concern.
That's why tough new rules are being introduced by the government to cut down on the problem.
Aviation Minister Baroness Sugg:
The new rules:
- Drone's can't fly above 400 feet and within 1km of an airport.
- Owners with drones weighing more than 250g must register them online and take a safety test, or face a £1000 fine.
- Penalty for those breaking the new laws near an airport is up to 5 years in prison.
But some people question the legislation and the safety risk they pose, like Paul French, a drone pilot:
But the industry say it's a real problem and they hope the new laws will help.