Things to Know Before You Fly Your Drone in the UK

By admin | Regulation

Jun 02

As Drones Become Cheaper and Easily Accessible, the Regulatory Issues That Come With It Too Are Growing. Here Are Some Things You Must Know If You Are Going to Fly Your Drone in the UK.

As drones gain more popularity than ever before, they are also attracting the attention of lawmakers around the world. Recently a British Airways flight reported to police that the plane had been struck by a drone shortly before its landing. While it landed intact and carried on its next journey without any hassles (and the “drone” might have been a plastic bag!) it certain remains a security concern that drones can hit flights.

Drones were once the domain of the military, now these unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are being used for a variety of purposes including agricultural, search and rescue, medical and civilian recreation purposes. Taking videos and pictures with drones are the latest fad in the wedding photography market and on Youtube videos.

As drones become cheaper and easily accessible, the regulatory issues that come with it too are growing. Here are some things you must know if you are going to fly your drone in the UK.

While drone usage rules are still evolving, there are many examples of growing concern of the use of drones by private citizens who have very little or no knowledge or aviation rules. There was a call for compulsory registration of all commercial and civilian drones made by the House of Lords EU Committee.

Anybody can buy a drone and fly it; however, there are some basic rules to adhere to. The UAV should not be used for commercial purposes, and should weigh less than 20kg. Also, you should avoid flying it within 150 metres of a crowded place and 50 metres of person, vehicle or structure. This basically translates into ‘be very careful if you are flying it in the park’

Another rule is that you should fly the drone “within sight”. The drone cannot exceed 400 feet in altitude and 500 metres in distance. If you intend to, you will need written permission from the Civil Aviation Authority.

Using drones for commercial purposes requires permission from the CAA, and there are various requirements for getting the license.

The UK government is due to publish a strategy on drone usage later this year which will give us more insight.

Apart from the security risks that drone usage poses, breach of privacy too is another concern that people have as the number of drones rise. As most of these drones come equipped with a camera it becomes very easy to invade others’ privacy. Using a camera on a drone to record images or video of other people without their consent could be construed as a breach of the Data Protection Act. The CCTV code of practice was recently extended to include public usage of drones.

Next time you take out your drone remember that it is not a toy, and is certainly categorized as an aircraft. Remember to adhere to the rules, stay out of the way of other people and make sure you don’t inconvenience anyone. Don’t take pictures of people unless they expressly say they don’t mind it. The last thing you want is to the CAA involved in your harmless fun.

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