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CAA. What is Substantially Congested

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Hughie, Feb 10, 2015.

  1. Hughie

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    Apologies to non UK members, this question relates to how to judge whether an area is substantially congested or not within the UK. Hopefully it will be of some interest anyway.

    Part of Article 167 (Small Unmanned Surveillance Aircraft) of the Air Navigation Order states :

    The Air Navigation Order defines a congested area as being ‘any area of a city, town or settlement which is substantially used for residential, industrial, commercial or recreational purposes’

    So there are some easy cases to spot. Like, a large residential area in a city, a premier league football stadium on a Saturday, a large petrochemical works etc. But at what point does "substantially congested" become not "substantially congested"? For that matter when does congested become not congested ?

    Case in point. Here is an area of land not far away from where I live which I would like to fly. I would like to get some non intrusive shots of the marina if possible. Anyone doing a risk analysis of the flight would spot a number of things to stay 50m away from, the Lock, any of the buildings or cars near it and the bridge for example. But is the marina area a significantly congested area, and if not why not? What criteria are we supposed to use to decide? The yellow line represents a distance of 150m from the edge of the marina. If I have to photograph from there with a GoPro the results will be underwhelming.


    I invite your thoughts on how to stay within a set of rules which seem to me to be rather vague and ambiguous.

    Thanks
     

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  2. IrishSights

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    I would say they would interpret it as a recreational area so the 150m rule would apply unless you have a PFAW. You could consider a narrower field of view lens like the 5.4mm flat field. That would get you reasonable fov.
     
  3. Hughie

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    Thanks for your reply.
    But what criteria were you applying?
    Also note that a number of these boats are actually residential.
     
  4. IrishSights

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    I know is a bit ambiguous, it is difficult.

    As its a lot of boats in one place I would say substantial would apply and its clearly recreational.

    As well as the ANO its worth assessing the risk. For example its over a lot of expensive boats, if it crashed what insurance would you have. I doubt whether the likes of recreational PL insurance from fpvuk.org would cover it for the above reasons. Another factor to look at is the risk of loss if it took a dip. Try defining a score system for risk, if the cumulative risk is above your threshold then don't fly. Commercially this is how I would approach this. There are many other risk factors you could build into your scoring system, like power lines, takeoff/landing encroachment, privacy (sun bathers relaxing on their decks in this case), whether or not you would have courtesy permission to film it, weather, Solar flare factor etc. This is all in addition to compliance of course.
     
  5. Hughie

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    All good points.
    I think I was happy with the risk assessment side of it. I would not be flying over any boats, I would just need to be about 50-100m out from the edge I guess, to get a decent shot. It was just a legal question really. Risk assessment is really about safety. The 150m rule I see more as a privacy law.

    Edit : The reason I mentioned residential was just to highlight that using a boat is not necessarily recreational. For a lot of people down at that marina, their boat is their home. But you are right that this is really irrelevant, it is more to do with deciding whether it is signifcant congestion or not.
     
  6. landmannnn

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    I think you are doing exactly the right thing by carrying out the risk assessment first.

    1. Definitely structures, buildings and vessels so 50m in the minimum distance
    2. Definitly not a gathering of 1,000 people
    3. Is it congested? This is defined as any area of a city, town or settlement which is substantially used for residential, industrial, commercial or recreational purpose. It isn't a city or town or settlement, so it isn't a congested area.

    BTW, the boats may be expensive but mostly made of 6mm steel.
     
  7. Hughie

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    Thanks for your comments.
    I hadn't considered this as a settlement either, until I learned that a lot of the boats were moored there all year round and people lived in them. I have to consider whether it is this type of situation which "settlement" refers to. There is no such thing as a set of completely cut and dried rules, but I think the CAA are hedging a bit here. I think they could provide some better criteria to let people make an informed decision.
     
  8. noiseboy72

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    As you say that some of the boats are residential, so this is by definition, a community, so I would suggest that the 150M / no over flying rule would apply.

    As you say, a grey area until proved in court, and would you want to be the one to set the precedent?
     
  9. p fandango

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    so here's another one, i've been volunteered/asked/want to fly & record at Brands Hatch for a media day (still a few people to get clearance from, but looking good). This i would assume classes as recreational ground, but is that void as i've got permission from the circuit managers & it is a closed circuit on the day & not open to the public

    ps this ISN'T a commercial flight, purely being done for a friend & as i love motorsport
     
  10. noiseboy72

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    If it's not open to the public, then this will be fine.

    You need to brief anyone who you may get within 50M of, but the 150M rule will not apply. Please be aware that a notice is not enough, you need to ensure they are totally aware of your activities.

    The classification of airspace need not be fixed, so just because the area is sometimes accessible by the public does not mean you can never fly there.
     
  11. IrishSights

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    The CAA have told me in person in response to an email enquiry that even if I film for free, if the resulting footage is used in anyway for commercial purposes by another party I can be liable. I cannot in law see clearly the mandate for this, as if you publish something on YT and some 3rd party makes money from it how can I be held liable?

    What I have done is with anything done for free for someone else I get them to sign a non-resale licence/statement. Many photographers use this types of copy protection (you hold the copyright but give restricted use), then it is clear you have done and can prove you have done everything to protect the work from being onward sold.

    They also told me filming for free and charging for processing is seen as a deception.

    Put it this way no matter what I think of it I'm not prepared in the slightest to test it in a court.

    All this has pushed me towards getting my BNUC-s Certificate leading to a CAA Permission to Fly for Aerial Work. Expensive as it is. Part 1 exam in 5 weeks time.
     
  12. Hughie

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    I completely agree. On the other hand if I had assumed that the boats were just moored there empty it could have affected the outcome. As I said earlier I was not planning an overfly in any case, just close enough (100m) to get some interesting shots.
     
  13. landmannnn

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    Just looking at the photo, it doesn't look like a liveaboard marina. British Waterways are very strict on giving marinas liveaboard permission,...
    Agreed that if you risk assess the flight and assumed that it could be residential that 150m applies. In the same way if you see no cars, washing lines etc you could assess this as non-residential and abide by 50m.
    If you were being completely **** you would keep a log book showing your assessment and flight details.
     
  14. Hughie

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    Good point. I checked their website... and it is one :(
     
  15. sergekouper

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    To me it doesn't qualify as a "congested area". However the 50m rule applies regarding persons, boats, roads, cars and structures. I would stay at 50m then. Not at 150.
     
  16. Hughie

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    That is interesting - and I like your conclusion :) . What criteria did you use to reach it ?
     
  17. IrishSights

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    I disagree. Its not really what we think but what would the CAA think. It IS a substantially recreactional area - that's it's purpose, therefore it is classed as a congested area so 150m rule applies IMO. Only holding a PFAW would allow you to go 50m, or closer if they are 'under your control' Its really down to a personal decision though.

    The CAA would also say its not about privacy but about safety... again no matter what we think.
     
  18. sergekouper

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    I may be wrong, but really, to me it doesn't appear as a congested area, it is not over crowded with boats, or people , or cars, or houses, it doesn't appear as a recreational place as such, it is a small and quiet marina, I do not evaluate the risk as high there. So, (to me again) definitely not a congested area. I would allow myself to come closer than the 150m mini required for congested areas. However, you can see all the red lights for the 50m rule: Road, bridge, cars (a few), probably some residents (a few) and visitors. and buildings.(Is it a railway at the top of the picture?)
     
  19. Hughie

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    Yes it is a railway line, but I would not be going near that. I only intended to fly along the yellow line, as far in as I could reasonably justify in law.
     
  20. sergekouper

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    I asked the question to "someone who really knows". If I get an answer that will be it. :)