You may or may not have heard of something called the drone code. The drone code is a simplified, easy to digest booklet, designed for hobbyist drone users to fly safely and legally.
The website http://dronesafe.uk was set up as a joint venture by NATS and the CAA, designed to help ensure that drone users in the UK can easily access the information they need about how to fly their drones safely and legally, without endangering others.
They even managed to use the term drone to help you break the main points into 5 parts.
- Don’t fly near airports or airfields
- Remember to stay below 400ft (120m)
- Observe your drone at all times – stay 150ft (50m) away from people and property
- Never fly near aircraft
- Enjoy Responsibly
What is the Drone Code?
The drone code was produced to help hobby and recreational drone pilots stay within the law in an easy, accessible and simple way. Some of the official CAA Aviation Documents can be quite difficult to understand to those who are not familiar with some of the terminology and abbreviations.
We've taken you through the Drone Code below, or alternivately check out our ICARUS 1 E-Learning course which is free and includes videos on The Drone Code.
Always keep your drone in sight
We always have to keep our drone in sight at all times. This is so you can see and avoid other people, vessels, vehicles and structures while you are flying. For all the obstacle avoidance sensors that are on a lot of new drones, these can sometimes fail and are not always 100% accurate, so always keeping your drone insight allows you to avoid anything in your flight path manually.
Stay below 400 ft (120 m)
By law, you need to make sure you don't fly your drone higher than 400ft from the surface. So if you are flying your drone over the top of a hill, you need to make sure you contour with the surface of the earth. This reduces the likelihood of a conflict with a manned aircraft as they generally can not fly lower than 500 ft. However, in some parts of the UK Low Flying Military aircraft can fly as low as 400 ft which is why it is especially important always to keep your drone in sight at all times.
You must follow the manufacturers instructions
You must always follow the drone manufacturers instructions for every flight. Usually, the manufacturers want you to set the drone up in a certain way for a reason. It's always worth keeping you aircraft firmware up-to-date as there may a severe issue with your current firmware which could lead to the aircraft malfunctioning. A recent case for this was with the DJI TB50 Batteries for the DJI Inspire 2 and Matrice 200 series whereby some aircraft were not showing the correct battery voltage and shutting down in flight. A firmware update to this has resolved the issue.
Keep the right distance from people and property
You must keep 150m away from congested areas such as villages, towns, cities, business parks and large crowds. You must then always stay 50m away from people and properties.
You must never fly your drone in a congested area, if you wish to fly in a congested area you will need a PfCO from the CAA and have completed the necessary planning and risk assessments.
You are responsible for each flight
The legal responsibility lies with you the remote pilot and a failure to fly responsibility within the rules and regulations could lead to criminal prosecution.
Stay well away from aircraft, airports and airfields
If your drone endangers the safety of an aircraft, it is a criminal offence, and you could go to prison for five years. You need to stay at least 1 km away from an airfield boundary.
Summary of the Drone Code
To summarise the drone code, you need to:
- Always keep your drone in sight at all times.
- Stay below 400 ft.
- Follow the manufacturer's instructions.
- Keep the right distance from people and property.
- You are responsible for each flight.
- Stay well away from aircraft, airports and airfields.
If you stick to the drone code, you should stay within the law, and therefore avoid conflict with other aircraft which could lead to criminal prosecution.
If you'd like to learn more about how to fly your drone safely as a hobby pilot, check out our FREE ICARUS 1 E-Learning course which is taught by industry expert Matt Williams and is a mixture of Videos and a Quiz to test your knowledge.