We often get asked, "What are the rules on quadcopters?" or "Where can I fly my Phantom?". In this blog, I will make as clear as possible what the current regulations and laws are in the UK.
First of all, I will split this in to 2 parts since there are different rules for hobby use and commercial use. So, when does hobby use become commercial use? Basically, anything for "financial gain" would be classed as commericial use. For example, taking some interesting videos and photos to share amongst your friends is hobby use, whereas taking photos of a property for an estate agent would be commercial use.
CAA's official guidance:
For hobby flying, there are a number of rules and laws to abide by to make sure you are operating correctly, safely and legally. As the pilot, you are responsible for each flight and it is your responsibility to learn the rules and ensure your quadcopter is safe to fly. We would always recommend a large open field, away from people, trees and buildings.
Popular quadcopters for hobby use are the DJI Phantom 2 H3-3D
and the Phantom 2 Vision+
Key points to note:
1. You must keep the aircraft within line of sight at all times. You cannot fly more than 500m away from your location or go above 400 feet from your current location.
2. You must not fly in congested areas (streets, towns or cities) and do not fly within 50 meters of a person, structure or building.
3. The pilot is responsible for learning all laws and regulations, please see the CAA guidelines here
If you are flying for financial gain, you will need to acquire a 'permission for aerial work' permit/license from the CAA to fly within the law. Financial gain will include any use of an aircraft where you will be earning money from it. Key examples would be an estate agent taking aerial shots of a property, an architect performing an aerial survey or a camera man capturing some aerial photography.
To get a 'permission for aerial work' you must first be qualified. Check out our guide on how to go about getting your qualification
Popular high-end aerial plaforms include the DJI S900
and the DJI S1000+
Key Points to note:
1. You will need permission from the CAA if you will receive financial gain from your aerial work.
2. As with hobby use, you must stay below 400 feet and not fly further than 500m from your location.
3. You must not fly in congested areas unless you have permission.