Within the last several months, there has been substantial media coverage of drones being operated in the area surrounding three major airports, Gatwick, Heathrow and Newark. Fortunately, there were no collisions with passenger aircraft. However, all three incidents caused significant disruption to airport operations and the plans of tens of thousands of passengers.

The media coverage about these incidents has focused on the inadequacy of airport drone security measures, the risks posed by increased numbers of drones and the possibility of a serious accident involving a passenger aircraft.  While the focus on these topics is certainly understandable, there has been little attention paid to who could be held liable if there was an accident, what the standards for liability would be and whether there would be insurance coverage for the damages that might be claimed.

Determining liability

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