The unprecedented growth of drones or RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aircraft System), within the toy, hobby and professional markets shows no sign of slowing down as system developments are making RPAS more affordable and accessible. I am sure that many people will have recently received one for Christmas and be eager to see what it can do.
The majority of ‘toy’ drones, typically weighing less than 1Kg, will be operated by new drone pilots. All pilots are regarded as airspace users and are required to consider the needs of others in the air. A lack of knowledge and experience of where and when to fly can potentially lead to unsafe incidents developing.
We’ve written about some of the considerations and implications of inexperienced drone flight before but I wanted to point out some of the CAA’s rules more specifically, to ensure that if you’re heading out with a shiny new drone any time soon, that you do so in a responsible way.
- RPAS must not be flown at a height greater than 400 feet
- RPAS must not be flown within 50m of a person, vehicle, building or structure, or overhead groups of people at any height
- RPAS must not be flown at a distance greater than 500m horizontally from the pilot, or at a distance exceeding that sufficient for the pilot to maintain continuous unaided visual line of sight with the RPAS, (whichever is less)
- RPAS must not be flown within 150m of a congested area. A congested area is defined as ‘streets, towns, cities & parks etc’.
- RPAS must not be flown commercially (receipt of financial gain), without specific permission from the CAA
- RPAS operators are responsible at all times for ensuring that each flight can be made safely, and that collisions with other people or objects can be safely avoided at all times. Failure to comply with any of these rules may lead to criminal prosecution
Some drones may also be fitted with small cameras, and be able to perform at speeds and heights far greater than the expectations of the user, which has the potential to cause serious and even fatal injury. Additionally, those fitted with camera functionality may leave the operator liable to prosecution under UK Privacy Laws, if careful consideration surrounding use is not applied.
There are a growing number of clubs specifically for drone users, where operators may learn, develop, and gain experience safely. This opportunity also holds benefits for industries and small businesses, so we all need to work together to ensure that drone pilots fly safely and legally.
NATS can now equip you and/or your employees in the knowledge and skills required for safe flight, through our CAA approved RPAS training course and following successful completion NATS can provide recommendation to the CAA relevant to your requirements.
For more information on the NATS RPAS training course:
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