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UK Drone laws

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Pegor, Dec 19, 2015.

  1. Pegor

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    Hello,

    Just about to get a new Phantom Drone delivered tomorrow. Just wanted to confirm some rules before I started flying. I live in the UK so hopefully someone from the UK can help or anyone else who may know.

    I've seen many videos on YouTube of people flying in their garden/home area and flying up high and getting some really nice views of their house and their area and was hoping to do the same, but I am kind of scared at the same time, as reading the CAA rules website, from my understanding I am not allowed to do that or am I reading it wrong? - Is flying the drone up in my garden and flying around within line of sight etc and within the range/height rules allowed or do I have to go to a park and look there?

    There is a website called noflydrones.co.uk, if I zoom onto the area I live the area is not covered or restricted. If you click the link below it will take you exactly to my area.

    No Fly Drones - UK No Fly Zones for Drones

    I intended to fly the drone in the park you see "Central Park" and over my house in the area "Rush Green", just under that on the road "Rush Green Road" which is where I live on the bottom side of the road.

    Just wondered if anyone could shed some light to my understanding so I know if I can fly my drone over my house or not as I do not want to start breaking rules and would be mortified if the police or something came and took my drone away.

    Thanks in advance for any help

    Regards,
    Pegor
     
  2. noiseboy72

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    It's quite simple, so here goes...
    Your flight must be safe. This means you should be able to see your quadcopter and be in control of it at all times.
    You must not fly over or within 150M of a congested area. This means anywhere where people live, are working or playing.
    You must not fly within 50M of any person, vehicle or structure not under your control.

    So, can you fly from your back garden? No, this would be a congested area.
    Can you take pictures of your house from above? No, for the same reason.
    Can you fly from a local park? Maybe. If no one else - or at least very few other people are using it - maybe early in the morning for instance, and local byelaws do not prohibit flying model aircraft, then quite possibly you can fly, but if the park is busy or very close to houses, then it becomes more risky.

    For me, it's easy, I have a 10 000 acre ex-cold war airfield to fly around and also a local private estate with standing permission to fly over, but for many the opportunities are much more limited.

    Good to see that you want to fly legally, that's a good start. The best bet is to get out into the countryside, well away from anyone and practice in an empty field. I usually find a bridleway to launch from and then fly over an arable field, so no animals to upset. Once you are confident, then you can move close to habitation, as you will be more experienced and there will be less risk of pilot error.
     
    #2 noiseboy72, Dec 20, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2015
  3. jamesb72

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    The most importantly thing is to fly safely, never take any money for flying and don't bother anyone, if you stick to that you shouldn't have an issue with the authorities, there are a lot of people flying blatantly dangerously they should be dealing with before they get to us ;)

    The formal rules for model aircraft are in CAP 658 - which are well worth reading and being aware of, they are fairly odd, as RC aircraft under 7Kg weight without a camera fitted have almost no restrictions, but as soon as a camera is fitted lots of restrictions come in, which don't make a lot of sense, ie a Blade FPV NanoQX weighs about an ounce, yet is categorised the same as a large 6.9Kg hexacopter carrying a DSLR on a large gimbal - whereas a 700 class nitro helicopter, which is pretty terrifying to be close to in flight, is pretty much unrestricted where it can fly, with no height limits etc. Still rules are rules:

    http://publicapps.caa.co.uk/docs/33/CAP658 4 Edition Amend 1 June 2013.pdf

    Certainly for your first flights you want to be in a big open field/area, away from any people or structures which are distracting when you are first getting used to flying, so much easier to start in wide open spaces. Once you are confident flying, and controlling your quad, then like most people you are going to want to fly in places which are interesting, but do so in a safe way, ie early mornings when no-one is about, and away from roads etc where there would be a risk if something happened and quad crashed into a vehicle, or you could even distract drivers just from flying close to the road.

    The CAA rules are 150m from 'congested area' - I don't know if they provide any clarification, clearly central london is congested, a small housing estate in Essex may not be, so you need to make a sensible judgement. Similarly the 50M distance from people/vehicles or property 'not under your control' - if your neighbours are aware you will be flying and don't object to you flying over your own property, I cannot imagine you would have a problem. Obviously if your hovering outside your neighbours daughters bedroom window without them knowing, then that's when it could get awkward!

    The CAA main concern is safety of full sized aircraft and the public, so there should be a lot of places you can safely fly sensibly without causing them any concern.
     
  4. noiseboy72

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    Just to clarify, 2 houses could be considered as a "congested area" within the rules. Certainly a small housing estate would be.
     
  5. Pegor

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    Hey all,

    Thanks a lot for your responses, I definitely plan to fly in a very open area, especially for my first few flights as this will be my first drone so very nervous about how it will feel, control wise and how it will respond and so on, so even any tips there while I am here would be highly appreciated as well.

    Also any app recommendations, I was searching the internet while doing some research and found someone recommending a mobile app but I cant for the life of me remember the website or the app, but it was something to do with air traffic or something along those lines which people recommended to use before flying. Any other tips while flying, controlling or even pre-flight type checks would also be much appreciated from anyone for a first time flyer.

    Thanks again all,
    Pegor
     
  6. jamesb72

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    I'd suggest getting a small Hubsan X4 or similar quad to fly in the house to practice, the controls are the same, but obviously with no GPS its much harder to fly, but very robust as its so small, so you can get confident with controls over the winter when weather is generally not great for outside flying anyway.

    As for pre-flight, I would suggest you take props off and go through setup/startup procedure in your garden so you get familiar with the steps, compass calibration, and home position etc, as that is generally where people rush through to get in the air so home position or GPS/compass are not ready and then problems happen.

    Other than that, I would say start with very simple close flights, and build up gradually, another common cause of incidents is people do a few hovering flights, then try to fly too far or high, cannot clearly see the quad and panic, so take small steps start with close in flights, then try to fly round a small tree etc to pracice controlling quad and camera, and then gradually start to do more, always respecting the 400ft height and visual range obviously.