HOBBY FLYERS: NEVER ASSUME – ALWAYS CHECK!
If you are flying a Drone for sporting and recreational purposes, including recreational (non-commercial) aerial photography and videography, they are considered to be model aircraft; the law makes no specific distinction on types of aircraft, other than weight limits, and all model aircraft pilots should read and understand the guidance contained in the CAA publications:
CAP 393 – Air Navigation: The Order and Regulations – CAA Link
CAP 658 – Model Aircraft: A Guide to Safe Flying – CAA Link
CAP 722 – Unmanned Aircraft System Operations in UK Airspace – Guidance – Auto stabilisation, flight automation and with video payloads. CAA Link
The latest version of these documents are available at the links above in electronic format and www.caa.co.uk/publications is where you may also register for e-mail notification of amendments. Before flying a drone or any radio controlled aircraft, you should make sure you’ve read the latest legal requirements.
These rules applied with a little common sense will ensure you are complying with the relevant legal requirements.
The basic aims of the main Air Navigation Order provisions is to prevent members of the public and full size aviation being endangered, and these provisions also help to limit the potential for causing nuisance and for invading privacy.
The basics are summarised in The CAA Drone Code. The Drone Code:
- ♦ Stay below 400ft – This reduces the likelihood of a conflict with manned aircraft
- ♦ Every time you fly, follow the manufacturer’s instructions – Keep your drone and the people around you safe
- ♦ Keep the right distance from people and property – 50m from people and property, 150m from crowds & BU areas
- ♦ You are responsible for each flight – Failure to fly responsibly could result in criminal prosecution
- ♦ Stay well away from aircraft, airports and airfields – It is a criminal offence to endanger safety of an a/c: could = prison for 5 years
The latest copy of the Drone Code can be found – here
Data Protection and CCTV Rules
You need to be aware that the collection of images of identifiable individuals, even inadvertently, when using a camera mounted on a drone will be subject to the Data Protection Act. This act contains requirements concerning the collection, storage and use of such images. Drone operators should ensure they are complying with any applicable requirements or exemptions. Further information about the Data Protection Act can be obtained from the Information Commissioners Office website: www.ico.org.uk.
Insurance For Hobby Flyers
Consider insurance; even as a hobby flyer as you may be liable for 3rd party damage and personal injury claims should you have an accident and damage is caused. This mandatory for commercial operation.
First Person View Pilots
N.B. The CAA issues an exemption to Article 94 (3) for First Person View (FPV) operation. See here for details.
Hobby Flying Locations
If intending to fly on private land, then the permission of the landowner should be sought, if flying on public land, such as a park or open access site then you must ensure that there are no bylaws in place specifically prohibiting or restricting model flying.
The other main consideration is the overall suitability of the location for the activity, and that all flying can take place in compliance with the primary “endangering” provisions of the ANO and also in accordance with the distances mandated.
There are a number of emerging applications to assist with safe Drone flying. These will identify your location and provide yo with an indication of the flight hazards including classification of airspace. With these you may also have a facility to indicate to other application users that you are flying in that specific location. Like all of these tools, you need to ensure that you keep them up to date with the latest information.
OUR ADVICE IS: IF IN DOUBT – ASK !
Please do not assume that just because one pilot is doing it, that it is acceptable, safe and legal. There are many British Model Flying organisations and a growing number of UK CAA National Qualified entities that would be able to provide you with the information you require.
At AJSSL we are always happy to provide independent advice and guidance to recreational pilots to ensure that they enjoy their hobby whilst flying safe and legal. We have a webchat facility that you are welcome to use for queries.
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