Christmas drone game set for take-off in the festive season

01 December 2017

Leading air traffic services provider, NATS, is serving up a festive treat for drone enthusiasts young and old this Christmas with the launch of a fun and competitive online game, Drone Run.

With the number of drone-related airspace incidents on the increase, NATS is committed to taking a leading role in encouraging responsible drone use. Drone Run is the latest in a series of initiatives designed to provide practical help and advice for drone pilots.

The new Christmas Drone Run game challenges virtual drone pilots to demonstrate they can fly their machines responsibly through a festive wintry landscape, keeping them in sight and below 400ft, as per the Drone Code, while simultaneously avoiding hazards such as Christmas trees, airports, snow-dusted buildings, and other aircraft – including Santa’s reindeer-led sleigh!

And thanks to dronesafe-accredited retailer Maplin, weekly £50 gift vouchers are up for grabs throughout December and the overall winner with the highest score will get their hands on an a DJI Spark drone; a mini UAV with intelligent flight control options, mechanical gimbal and camera with incredible image quality. The top winner will also get an exclusive visit up Heathrow air traffic control tower* to see the airport’s operation in practice for them plus one guest*.

Game users are encouraged to share their scores on social media tagging NATS and using the hashtag #xmasdronerun throughout the month – and to be in with the chance of winning a prize, competitors should send a screengrab showing their highest score to [email protected].

David Harrison, Safety Director, NATS, said: “We are excited about the enormous potential of drone technology and this game has been designed as a light-hearted way to help get a serious drone safety message across.

“With many people potentially receiving a drone for Christmas, it is timely to emphasise the importance of flying drones safely, highlight the rules of the Drone Code and to consider other airspace users at all times. Remember, if you are flying a drone, you are a pilot and safety is your responsibility”.

Andrew Uden, Technical Director at Maplin, added: “Around this time of year our drones begin to fly off the shelves, with customers looking for the latest must-have Christmas gift. As the UK’s leading responsible retailer of drones, this makes it especially important for us to remind people to stay safe while flying.

“We’re delighted to partner with NATS on Drone Run, a brilliantly fun and festive game which reminds people of the rules around safe drone use. The last thing anyone wants this Christmas is for someone to fly their drone into Santa’s sleigh!”

As well as the Christmas Drone Run game, NATS has a free app, Drone Assist, which provides users with an interactive map of airspace showing where it is safe to fly and where to avoid, as well as a Drone Portal that offers practical and useful tools, advice and resources for those flying drones in UK airspace. Commercial drone pilots can also take advantage of NATS training courses, which prepare participants for the CAA permissions needed to fly commercially.

The game can be found at: and a downloadable version of the leaderboard is available here.

*Full competition Terms & Conditions.

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