UK Drone LawsMade Simple
UAS, PfCO, CAA, PIC and so on. Drone Laws in the UK are confusing. Whether you’re thinking of purchasing a drone yourself or think you have witnessed someone flying illegally then check out this guide to all you need to know to protect yourself and others.
Why All of the Negative Press?
Just like anything, drones are a weapon in the wrong hands. With the industry expanding at such a fast pace, accidents are becoming more frequent as a result.
The simple solution to this would be to tighten the regulations that control UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems [AKA: Drone]). However, it’s not as easy as it seems.
Commercial Pilots legally have to hold a PfCO (Permission for Commercial Operations) accreditation issued by the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority). This is obtained at the end of a training scheme, which pilots must complete in order to carry out drone operations ‘commercially’. It’s essentially the drone equivalent of a driving test.
On the other hand, if you do not hold a PfCO then you can still fly a drone but some slightly stricter safety rules apply.
All of our pilots at Flux Media have undertaken this training and fully comply with all drone laws. We would like to emphasise that a pilot who has not undertaken this training, and wishes to use their UAS for commercial reasons, is breaking the law.
Anyone else who wishes to operate a UAS will fall under the ‘recreational’ category and will follow a slightly different code. As of 30th November 2019, ALL drone pilots will have to pass a drone test and register with the CAA before any flight.
All Recreational + Most Commercial Ops
· The drone must be within your line of sight and no further than 500m horizontal distance.
· You must fly below 400f (120m)
· Follow the manufacturer’s instructions
· Keep 50m from people and property, 150m from crowds and built-up areas
· Keep AT LEAST 5km from airports.
· PfCO holders may apply to the CAA for proximity permits, allowing them to fly up to 10m or in extreme cases, 5m away from people and structures. If this is the case, the company should still inform the surrounding area with its intentions.
Any PfCO accredited pilots will be able to present evidence of their permits and any paperwork relating to their operation. Our pilots at Flux Media Productions will also be able to answer any questions you send their way regarding the current Drone Laws.
If pilots are flying within regulation, they may fly a drone right above your property, that is if it’s over 50m from you or your property. Although, they are not entitled to photograph or video in a place where you have a reasonable expectation of privacy ie; your back garden. It can be difficult to determine which way their camera is facing. However, it’s more than likely that the camera is pointing within a different direction.
In a similar way to satellite imaging services, there is a slight grey area. This essentially translates into. If someone is specifically photographing your garden then this is against the law. However, it is understood that pilots are allowed to photograph larger areas. This however isn’t specified within drone laws, it is covered by wider privacy laws.
What to do if You Believe a Pilot is Breaching These Conditions?
If you believe a drone operation may be breaching any of the drone laws mentioned above, we advise you try to find the pilot in command. After they have landed the UAS, talk to them about their intentions. Most pilots will be understanding and may even admit to making a mistake.
Please note: Approaching a PIC whilst they are flying a UAS is Illegal and extremely dangerous. Do not try to approach or talk to a PIC whilst they are during a flight.
When you can’t find the PIC (Pilot in command) we advise you collect evidence of the UAS by taking photos or video and contact your local police on 101.
Regardless of whether you’re purchasing a drone for commercial reasons, operating within drone regulations in the UK is extremely important. Knowing your stuff when it comes to the various documents will certainly help you no end. We use these day in, day out at Flux Media Productions so it’s worth having a read.
Outlines the necessary requirements to operate UAS commercially in the United Kingdom.
The Air Navigation Order
The Civil Aviation Authority UAS Website
Important information essential to air navigation
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