You may recall that drones were in the news back in December 2018, after alleged instances of unlawful flying over Gatwick Airport resulted in around 140,000 passengers being disrupted in the run up to Christmas as flights were cancelled, re-routed, or diverted.
With this in mind, we thought the perfect blog post would be on where you can – or rather, can’t – fly a drone, and what permissions you need to have to be able to fly a drone in public and private spaces.
We’ll clear one thing up now though; you definitely can’t fly a drone over an airport…
So, where can you fly a drone?
It’s difficult to say for certain where you can fly a drone, as each individual council will have their own bylaws.
For example, in a built-up city like London, you would be restricted to fly your drone in most public spaces.
In the countryside or larger public parks where there are not many people or buildings about, you would generally be OK to fly your drone, but still check with your local council before you do – all of London’s Royal Parks, for example, have banned drones due to the risk of terrorism.
The restrictions are slightly relaxed if you are flying your drone for commercial use, but you’ll need to obtain operating permission from the Civil Aviation Authority before taking it out.
It’s also important to note that from November 2019, all drone users will be required to register their drones online and take “drone driving tests” to ensure that the UK’s skies are safe from irresponsible drone users.
Are there any areas where you can’t fly a drone?
In the UK, you can’t fly a drone higher than 120m, and obviously not over airports!
The CAA states that it’s prohibited to fly a drone – or any other kind of unmanned aerial vehicle – within 1km of the boundary of a protected airspace, unless permission has been specifically granted by the CAA or relevant governing board.
This doesn’t just apply to large scale airports like Gatwick or Heathrow either – it includes smaller airports and military aerodromes too.
The law also states that drone pilots need to keep clear of people, vehicles and buildings by at least 50 meters, while in built up areas or spaces congested with people (such as a festival or busy park), drones should come no closer than 150 meters.
If your drone has a camera attached to it, you can’t fly closer than 50 meters to any buildings, vehicles or people, unless you have permission from all parties involved and the drone is in your control.
So, that’s the basics on aerial videography*. For a more detailed list of the UK’s “no fly zones”, visit noflydrones.co.uk.
Thanks for reading, and happy flying!
*In other words we mean drone filming, we just wanted to sound fancy.