DUE TO RECENT CONCERNS ABOUT PRIVACY AND PUBLIC SAFETY, THE CIVIL AVIATION AUTHORITY (CAA) HAS INITIATED AN AWARENESS CAMPAIGN DESIGNED TO HELP HOBBYISTS KNOW WHERE THEY CAN AND CANNOT FLY THEIR RC AIRCRAFT.
This comes in advance of more solid consumer drone legislation expected from the agency by the end 2015. At the time of this writing, current regulations for where you can and cannot fly RC drones, quadcopters, multirotors, flying cameras, unmanned aircraft vehicles (UAV) are a bit confusing.
So before you take your new toy out for spin in the park, there are some things that you need to know:
The CAA claims responsibility for the safety of UK airspace from the ground up. For RC hobbyists, the CAA safety guidelines limit recreational use of model aircraft to:
- Below 400 Feet
- Within Sight Of The Operator
- More Than 5 Miles Away From Airports And Air Traffic Without Prior CAA Notification
Other no-fly zones include military bases and national parks. Although there are some models of RC aircraft that use GPS to help them avoid flying too close to an airport, you are generally on your own in following the CAAs guidelines. Custom map developer Mapbox has created a useful Don't Fly Drones Here map that covers the US, and is creating one for UK hobbyists as well.
Outside of the above CAA guidelines, finding a safe place to fly comes down to common sense. This includes avoiding things like flying near power lines or over crowds of people, vehicles and buildings such as stadiums, schools and government buildings as well as in any other densely populated areas.
While there is nothing in place from the CAA to legally stop you from flying in those areas outside of its guidelines, you certainly run the risk of causing property damage or injuring someone. Likewise, using a camera setup on your RC helicopter or drone to record over private property might get you into trouble if there is reasonable expectation of privacy.
So, what it all comes down to is that, for recreational use, you can fly your drone anywhere within the limits of the CAA guidelines. But, before you go out to fly somewhere new, its best to check with local officials to make sure youre in the clear and not breaking any local nuisance laws.