Flying Drones. The UK Law
Flying Drones is possibly one of the most contentious, talked about subjects on film-makers, photographers and radio control enthusiasts throughout the UK. Once again we see the SUAV (Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicle), better known as a drone, literally sky rocket onto the front pages of the press this week. Flying drones is one thing, but doing so in dangerous, potentially life threatening environments is another. Police are investigating a mid-air collision with a passenger airliner travelling from Geneva on Sunday 17th April 2016 as it prepared for landing while approaching London’s Heathrow Airport. British Airways stated the Airbus A320 was not damaged when the object hit the nose of the plane, but the potential consequences could have been devastating and caused a huge loss of life. In the past twelve months, there have been 25 reported near misses with twelve making the “Class A” serious risk of collision category. The UK Air Proximity Board, the body responsible for investigating near-miss incidents in UK airspace have evidence of numerous near misses and potentially catastrophic incidents which include a drone flying over a Boeing 737 by about 16 feet. Live television has captured near misses as recently ad December where world champion skier Marcel Hirscher narrowly missed severe injury when a heavyweight, professional drone smashed into pieces only inches away from the athlete at the Alpine Skiing World Cup in Italy.
The British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) campaigned for drones to be programmed not to enter certain airspace – known as geo-fencing. Dji, maker of the The Phantom drone, has geo-fencing already programmed into Firmware of key locations, royal residences and literally thousands of international airports across all continents. DJI is a global leader in developing and manufacturing innovative drone and camera technology for commercial and recreational use. DJI was founded and is run by people with a passion for remote-controlled helicopters and experts in flight-control technology and camera stabilisation. The company is dedicated to making aerial photography and filmmaking equipment and platforms more reliable and easier to use for creators and innovators around the world. DJI’s global operations currently span North America, Europe and Asia, and its revolutionary products and solutions have been chosen by customers in over 100 countries; for applications in film, advertising, construction, fire fighting, farming, and many other industries.
DJI Launches Public Beta of New Geofencing System
System Enables Authorized Users to Unlock Certain Areas
Shenzhen, China (Dec. 31, 2015)–DJI, the world’s leading drone maker, Thursday launched a public beta version of its new geofencing system in North America and Europe.
Geospatial Environment Online (GEO) will provide drone users with up-to-date guidance on locations where flight may be restricted by regulation or raise safety or security concerns. With this major upgrade to DJI’s existing geofencing system, users will have access to live information about areas temporarily restricted from flight due to forest fires, major stadium events, VIP travel and other changing circumstances. The GEO system will also show restricted areas around locations like prisons, power plants and other sensitive areas where drone flight would raise non-aviation security concerns. To accommodate the large variety of authorized applications, GEO will allow drone operators with verified DJI accounts to self-authorize and temporarily unlock flight in some locations. Certain areas where drone flight is not allowed, such as Washington D.C., will remain as unlockable no-fly zones. Unlocking requires a DJI account verified with a credit card, debit card or mobile phone number. DJI will neither collect nor store the information, and the service is free.
To read more about the Dji Geo-fencing and how it impacts on flying drones, click the link HERE
Flying Drones may seem a simple enough procedure. In fact, recreational flying is something that can be managed by a child. The following video shows an eight & nine year old child taking control a Phantom V2 SUAV. In a controlled environment, at low altitude and calm weather conditions pending, basic GPS flying is possible even for a child, but it’s not that cut and dry in reality. The consequences of flying drones without any form of official certification and training is another story and parents need to be aware of their responsibilities if they choose to let an unsupervised child out into airspace with a Drone.
With Drone sales in 2015 exceeding a staggering one million units, the steady stream of near misses raises serious questions about flying drones in an unregulated capacity. The absolute breakneck speed at which the Drone Flying culture has escalated both in the UK must allow for some kind of future proofing. Without legislation, the skies will literally be filled with hobbyists breaching privacy laws and endangering property and people going about their everyday lives. There needs to be a balance and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is constantly developing it’s framework, but realistically, this is still in the very early stages.
We are beginning to see the drip feed of pro-active prosecutions as the CAA set a precedent as to where and how Flying Drones can be undertaken. In the UK, two people have been prosecuted for the “dangerous and illegal” flying of a drones. A drone enthusiast,Nigel Wilson, a security guard from Nottingham was prosecuted by the Crown Prosecution Service for using drones after a police-led operation relating to incidents including flight within 100 metres of Premier League, Champions League and Championship football matches, parliament and Buckingham Palace. In one incident Wilson was flying drones so close to mounted Police Officers, that he startled horse at the Liverpool FC, Anfield Stadium. Wilson was fined £1,800 for nine offences, had equipment confiscated and banned from purchasing, borrowing or using for any purpose a drone or encouraging anyone else to do so.was banned from flying or keeping drones for district judge Quentin Purdy told Wilson he showed “flagrant disregard” for people’s safety by flying his three drones over busy, built-up areas.
Meanwhile A TV-repair shop was the first person convicted in the UK for “dangerously” flying a drone.Robert Knowles was fined £800 and ordered to pay costs of £3,500 costs after flying a small drone within 50 metres of The Jubilee Bridge on the Walney channel and flying over a nuclear submarine-testing facility, where he crashed the Drone into the sea channel. He was prosecuted by the Civil Aviation Authority and claimed the fine and legal costs would bankrupt him.
Tim Johnson, CAA Director of Policy said, “We want to embrace and enable the innovation that arises from the development of drone technology, but we must ensure that this is done safely, with all airspace users in mind. It is imperative that people observe the rules when operating a drone. Drone users must understand that when taking to the skies they are entering one of the busiest areas of airspace in the world – a complex system that brings together all manner of aircraft including passenger aeroplanes, military jets, helicopters, gliders, light aircraft and now drones. When doing so, they must be aware of the rules and regulations for flying drones that are designed to keep all air users safe.” The ‘Drone Safety Awareness Day’ will see the launch of a dedicated online resource where existing and potential users can access advice on safe drone operation, along with the ‘Dronecode’, a list of tips that will ensure recreational users can enjoy their drone without posing any risk to aircraft and other airspace users.
Flying Drones – The Uk Law Explained.
The CAA has set-up a As part of the drone safety awareness initiative and an online resource including some plain speaking tips as to flying drones safely. The site includes a no frills guide to the rules for recreational drone usage.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) sets the rules on drones in the UK under what is called an air navigation order.
- An unmanned aircraft must never be flown beyond the normal unaided “line of sight” of the person operating it – this is generally measured as 500m (1,640ft)horizontally or 400ft (122m) vertically
- An unmanned aircraft fitted with a camera must always be flown at least 50m (164ft) distance away from a person, vehicle, building or structure
- An unmanned aircraft fitted with a camera must not be flown within 150m (492ft) of a congested area or large group of people, such as a sporting event or concert
- For commercial purposes, operators must have permission to fly a drone from the CAA
When flying Drones in the UK it is your responsibility to be aware of the rules that are in place to keep everyone safe. Follow these simple steps to make sure you are flying safely and legally.
For full guidance on unmanned aircraft systems in UK airspace, Please refer to the air navigation order on the CAA site for specific details.please read CAP 722.