Are you confused about the new UK drone laws ?
Today see’s the start of new tougher drone laws in the UK from today as I mentioned in a previous blog post all drone flights are restricted to 400ft above ground level (AGL), This includes hobby flights which until now had no restriction on height this allows a safe separation between drones and most manned aircraft. You cannot operate your drone within 1KM of a protected airport unless you first gain permission from the Air Traffic Control,
But these two parts of the new legislation have already caused some confusion with in the drone community so lets have a look at what we need to know.
What do they mean by 400 feet above the ground is this the point from where the pilot stands ? what if I fly over a cliff do I need to descend ? what if I am up a mountain ? are just some of the questions that have been doing the rounds in the forums with some people thinking that as long as one point of there flight is within 400 feet of there take of point they are fine, Not True. the new laws mean that wherever you fly be it on flat land, mountainous land or even off a cliff your drone must at all times be no higher than 400 feet from the ground directly below it. imaging you have a 400 feet piece of weighted string hanging from your drone that piece of string must stay in contact with the ground to maintain 400 feet, so if you are standing at the top of a 100ft cliff and fly directly up to 400 feet then fly out over the cliff in a horizontal straight line once over the cliff you are in fact at 500 feet and breaking the law, you will have to descend 100ft to main the drone altitude at the reacquired 400 feet. Remember 400ft AGL (above ground level) at all times) if you want to fly higher you will need to obtain special permission from the CAA in writing.
So why have they done this ? its simple, to avoid or minimize the chances of coming into contact with aircraft, most aircraft fly from 500ft so the 400ft rules help keep some separation between your drone and any aircraft, however there are exceptions to this for instance military aircraft can fly much much lower as low as 200ft, helicopters often fly lower so you still need to keep an eye out when flying and make sure you keep out of there way. you must also always keep your drone within visual line of site and not fly further that 500 meters out.
So what about airports the new laws say you cannot fly within 1km of a protected airport without the permission of Air Traffic Control. that 1km from the whole outside boundary of the airport its not just a case of dropping a 1km radius circle on the center of the airport you will have to work out where you are flying and make sure at no point does you flight come within 1km of any part of the airports boundary. So what do I do if it does? you need to call the local Air traffic Control believe it or not they are normal people and in my experience have always been very friendly and helpful so don’t be scared to call them.
What is a protected Airport ? in a nutshell if it has an ATC or ATZ (Air Traffic Control or Aerodrome Traffic Zone) its classed as protected. this can also apply to some smaller airfields so be careful.
And remember don’t fly with in 50 meters of people, building or vehicles not under you control or over large built up areas such as cities such as London or towns and villages or crowds of 1000 people or more.
There are further laws coming next year such as having to register you drone with the CAA and some pretty strong penalties if you don’t, so don’t get caught out read the new laws and make sure you understand them before you fly, you can get more info here at http://dronesafe.uk/ and from the CAA Website.
What do you think about the new laws and regulations ? leave you comment below and don’t forget to share this blog.