Safety Aspects of Drone Filming

When flying a Drone there are many things you need to do before you can take off. Drones are not toy’s and therefore drone safety is key. Ignoring or not following the rules could result in fines or worse someone could be injured. When Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) came into the consumer world there were no regulations or rules. The UK and other authorities have finally caught up. As a drone pilot at Blue Whale Media, I have learnt all the key elements to keeping drone filming safe.

Responsibility

In the UK, the authority responsible for civil aviation is the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). When you fly a drone in the UK it is your responsibility to be aware of the rules that are in place to keep everyone safe. The CAA produced ‘The Drone Code’ 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. Here are some aspects of The Drone Code that are important to remember:

  • 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

Restrictions

There are also restrictions on places you can fly a drone. Understanding the airspace in which you are planning to fly your drone is key. There are many flight planning tools that show no-fly zones in the UK such as apps like AirMap and websites like noflydrones.co.uk and notaminfo.com. Here are the zones and their meanings:

  • Danger Areas and HIRTA’s: Danger Areas are areas of military airspace often used for activities such as fighter pilot training, live ammunition training or weapons and systems testing (including GPS jamming exercises).
  • Prohibited Areas and Flight Restriction Zones: Prohibited Areas are areas of airspace which for one reason or another have been prohibited from having aircraft enter them.
  • Controlled Airspace, Aerodromes and Airports: These zones surround smaller airports and aerodromes that do not have additional controlled airspace. Other areas identify Controlled Airspace. If you are operating a drone above 7kg you must not fly in these areas without prior permission from the air traffic service provider controlling that airspace.
  • Restricted Areas: Restricted Areas protect sensitive locations such as prisons and nuclear facilities.
  • Military Aerodrome Traffic Zones: Military Aerodrome Traffic Zones, similar to civil Aerodrome Traffic Zones, typically protect military aerodromes in the same way.

Conclusion

Safety with your drone is an imperative and legal responsibility for all drone pilots in the UK. Completing a risk assessment before each flight will help you fly your aircraft as safely as possible. If you’re a commercial drone operator, include the details in your Operations Manual for the generic jobs you cover. Review the details before every flight to ensure you’ve covered every situation and reduced the risk.

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