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Help with UK and CAA regulations - Police caution

Discussion in 'Rules and Regulations' started by geekl33tgamer, Aug 29, 2016.

  1. geekl33tgamer

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    I'm fairly new to this hobby, but have already been on the receiving end of the law regarding their use. Around a week ago, I was flying over an area of large parkland in my city which included a lake at it's centre. It is surrounded by houses, but from the location I was flying they were a good 75-100 meters away and I was 120 meters up in the air. There was only a handful of people in the park. I put some pics and photos on Facebook which is where the complaint come from.

    A police officer call round this morning, and issued me with a formal caution for flying the Phantom - Stating that flying over any major town/city even if I was in the park is against the law.

    I've looked up the rules from the CAA, and if I interpreted them correctly it would appear that he is right, and flight in the UK over literally anything and anyone is prohibited?

    CAA regarding general use of unmanned aircraft:
    The person in charge of a small unmanned aircraft must maintain direct, unaided visual contact with the aircraft sufficient to monitor its flight path in relation to other aircraft, persons, vehicles, vessels and structures for the purpose of avoiding collisions. Not exceed a height of more than 400 feet above the surface, and the flight must not be for commercial use.

    CAA additional restrictions on surveillance aircraft:
    The person in charge of a small unmanned surveillance aircraft must not fly the aircraft in any of the circumstances described in paragraph 2 except in accordance with a permission issued by the CAA. From paragraph 2 - Flight is prohibited over or within 150 metres of any congested area; over or within 150 metres of an organised open-air assembly of more than 1,000 persons; within 50 metres of any vessel, vehicle or structure which is not under the control of the person in charge of the aircraft and within 50 metres of any person.

    CAA definition of terms:
    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.

    That last one, the definition of what is considered a congested area, seems to be a catch-all for almost all of the UK unless I am mistaken. Furthermore, max flight altitude allowed is 120 meters, but the CAA says you can't be within 150 meters of anything.

    If the police receive a further complaint against me, the officer said I would be prosecuted. Has this problem come up in the UK before (as we do seem to be insanely strict)?
     
  2. Alec200

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    This is why I do most of my flying over the sea! If you take off and land within an intertidal area the only person you technically need permission from is the Queen apparently.

    But you are absolutely right, depending on interpretation, the U.K. laws are extremely restrictive.



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  3. Dronemaster

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    Welcome to the world of the CAA!! I add, I hear several police forces are being trained to understand "the law/ANO CAP393" and therefore will be "pro active" in prosecutions. .. My best advice is find a friendly farmer who allows you to overfly his land. But don't forget the 500m/vlos rule as well as max 400ft agl rule. (And keep out of ATZ class A airspace) unless you fancy being introduced to Bubba at HMP who's looking for a new play mate to share breakfast with


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  4. rockydog

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    The 150 metres is a horizontal distance, i.e. how far away from the object you are, not how high above it.
    Provided you stay more than 50 metres away from the houses or any people in the park, there shouldn't be any problem...it would seem that you have been rather harshly treated on this occasion. What was the actual complaint that the police received?
     
  5. Dronemaster

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    The 150m, 50 and 30m rule is a "bubble" measurement I think you will find


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  6. geekl33tgamer

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    That's what I thought too, but apparently that's a common misconception according to the officer. Remember it states:

    "Flight is prohibited over or within 150 metres of any congested area. 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."

    That reads to me that I need to be 150M horizontal AND 150M vertical, but we can't legally do the latter anyway.

    The nature of the complaint was misuse of an unmanned aircraft, and was made around a week or so before they actually contacted me. It's very frustrating either way, as the restrictions seem unduly restrictive. It seems LESS about the physical risk of it falling from the sky (as the limits I'm talking about are listed under the surveillance aircraft section), and more about privacy?

    People are dots on my existing footage at 120M, so that's dubious. Photography in public spaces also isn't illegal in England.
     
  7. rockydog

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    The officer has got it wrong.....it means that you cannot fly over the congested area at any height, nor can you approach within 150 metres horizontally.
     
  8. hoverspy

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    Dont put any footage on facebook its asking for trouble. You will find that some of your friends are not friends. Did the police even look at your footage. Definition of congested is overcrowded with traffic or people and if you say there were only a handful of people and you were within 50 meters of them there should not have been a problem.
     
    #8 hoverspy, Aug 30, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2016