Christmas is just around the corner now and many people including a drone on their lists. It is predicted over 100,000 drones in many shapes and sizes will be sold during the holiday period in the UK. Drones are also known as Quadcopters, RPAS, UAV, SUSA and the list goes on.
However its not just a case of opening the box and running outside to throw it up into the air, there are laws and regulations you must follow to ensure safety to yourself and others.
There is a list of rules issued by the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) in which you have to follow.
Craig Ross from HiCam Photography based in Worcestershire is a Qualified Commercial UAV Pilot whom offers high level photography using UAVs to capture those unique views you wouldn’t normally achieve from the ground. However Craig is increasingly seeing more and more drones being used illegally and dangerously, which not only can damage property, they can cause serious injury to people and animals if used incorrectly.
We have written down the rules that you can and can’t do with and when your flying your new shiny drone under 7kg to give you a helping hand. The rules any hobbyist with a drone fitted with a camera must follow:
- Don’t fly within 50m of any person, animals, vehicle or building not under your control.
Don’t fly close to people or property that have not given you permission or know what you are doing. This is all to do with safety, you don’t want to cause injury anyone and people can’t react in an emergency if they don’t realise your flying around if your drone suddenly fails and drops from the sky. This is reduced to 30m when taking off and landing your drone.
- Don’t fly over or within 150m of any crowd or gathering of 1000+ people.
When there is over 1000+ people it is believed to be impossible to control that many people when your operating your drone. When there are more people there is a greater risk and you cannot get 1000 people to run or get out of the way in an emergency quickly.
- Don’t fly over or within 150m of any congested area.
A “congested area” is any residential, commercial, recreational or industrial location. This means no flying in big cities, towns or your cul-de-sac at the end of your road. As the risk is increased and safety is power mount in all flying situations.
- Have landowners permission where you are flying and taking off from.
It is against the law to take off your drone from someone else’s land without their permission, not only this you may be unaware of something going on nearby or on the land which only the land owner knows about.
- Don’t lose sight of the drone, or fly more than 500m laterally away from you.
Just don’t keep flying to see how far you can go! It just isn’t safe and completely reckless. If a fault occurs on your drone during the flight and you can’t see it, how will you react in the emergency? Then it causes injury to someone’s property or even worse hurts somebody. 500m is not a target, if you can’t see your drone at 100m away from you do not keep going further away from you.
- Don’t fly higher than 400ft (122m).
It is your responsibility to keep your drone before 400ft as this is where G class airspace begins and other aircraft are flying not much higher than this. You do not want to crash your drone into an oncoming aircraft, with this you also need to keep an eye out for any low-flying aircraft during your flight and you MUST take action to get out of the way as you can see them but they may struggle to see your small drone flying around.
- Don’t fly within 5 miles of an airport, without permission from the ATC tower.
Flying within 5 miles of an airport is a big no no. This is extremely dangerous and you don’t want the police chasing you or knocking on your door for prosecution.
- Don’t be a nuisance.
Don’t go chasing sheep around a field, not only does this scare the animal you don’t know how they will react! (you can’t control them!) Along with flying over your neighbours garden to see if they are sunbathing out on the lawn.
- Don’t get distracted.
Keeping line of sight is no easy task with some smaller drones or even the bigger ones, it only take a momentary lapse in concentration and you will loose your drone in the sky. It can be difficult to relocate where it has got to. When flying with friends or family don’t be encouraged to fly outside of the law or comfort zone by going faster, higher or further away.
- Don’t fly for money or ‘valuable consideration’.
You cannot accept any “work” with your drone without a Permission for Aerial Work (PFAW) from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). This includes taking £20 off your mate to photograph his house for sale or accepting beer tokens. You or someone else cannot get a commercial gain from the usage of photos or video from your drone. This is because PFAW holders are qualified drone pilots and have had extensive training to ensure safety is always the priority and can react in an emergency situation.
We sound like the big baddies now don’t we, this is not the case the don’ts are law and must be followed. Drones can be fun, great hobbies and something to learn to fly at your own pace.
- Do have fun!
Lets be honest drones look cool and great fun and in most cases are big boys toys!
- Do a flight plan.
When you plan on flying
- Do check the weather and wind conditions.
Ensure you know your drone’s limitations and check the weather before your flight, wind anemometer are a great tool for this and can be picked up for just a few pounds.
- Do check for NOTAMs where you are flying.
Please ensure you check for any NOTAMs (Notice to airmen) where your planning to fly your drone to ensure you don’t interfere with someone else planning on doing something in the same airspace.
- Do get some training!
Even if you think your the best drone pilot ever born! No-one knows everything in our opinion, everyone can learn something from training. Drop us an email and we might be able to help you with drone training.
- Do fly safe.
Remember its not bouncy ball that won’t hurt you. Spinning propellers and weighing a kilogram or more can hurt if it hurts you or someone else. Just be sensible and use your common sense when flying.
- Do take some amazing pictures and video.
You can now take amazing pictures and video with your drone from heights and angels can’t at your local camera club or Facebook friends. So enjoy and get snapping!!
- Do explore.
There are many places others have not seen before including yourself, get out there find new locations and think about what it might look like from above! The world is your oyster, just ensure you follow the rules above and have landowners permission.
Take time to understand the rules – failure to comply could lead you to a criminal prosecution. You can read the CAP722 “Unmanned Aircraft System Operations in the UK” rules in more details on the CAA website. HiCam Photography and Filming pride themselves on operating safely and legally. If you are purchasing a drone for someone this christmas and will be looking for training to fly the drone safely HiCam will be offering training courses to improve your skills and how to go about it legally.
Enjoy and fly safe this Christmas.