UK Drone Licenses for Recreational and Commercial use explained

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I am soon on my way to the UK and decided to buy my new DJI Phantom 4 Professional Drone. I want to get some nice sunset and country side shots while I’m there. I’m thinking about doing a road trip so this will be the ideal time to get a wide range of different sights and landscapes as we tour the country.

Before I arrive to the UK, I thought it would be best to do some research on flying Drones in England. I found a lot of information which I have shared with you below. This will keep us within laws and not get into trouble.

What I found on UK Drone Licenses for Recreational and Commercial use

The use of unmanned aerial vehicles (or drones) for aerial filming and other activities in the UK airspace is governed by the CAA.  UAV regulations and guidelines have been set, but they are also evolving as the technology and the industry evolves.   Note that what follows is a general summary and full details can be viewed on the CAA’s website where you will find links to the relevant documents and sections on each aspect of UAV operation according to weight and other criteria.

Companies doing commercial work are usually issued with a PfAW (Permission for Aerial Work) document by the CAA having undergone the required training and assessment.  This permission is renewed annually.

Anyone using a small drone needs to be aware of the regulations contained in the Air Navigation Order.

This short video guide for what is expected for every drone operator.

The regulations are designed to make UAV flying safe for everyone i.e.other airspace users, those on the ground, and the UAV operators themselves.  Some details may change over time so always use the CAA’s website for the latest versions.

Below are the basic rules to which all UAV pilots must adhere when flying UAV weighing 20 kg or less that are equipped with cameras of various types.

The flight must not put anyone or anything in danger of injury or damage.

The aircraft should be kept within the visual line of site of RP (Remote Pilot – the person operating it).  This is considered to be a maximum of 400ft vertically and a distance of 500m horizontally.  Approval to operate flights beyond these limits must be obtained from the CAA.

  • Depending on the airspace in which the flight is to take place the RP may need to obtain permission from the appropriate ATU (Air Traffic Unit).
  • Not over or within 150m of any congested area (exceptions detailed in CAA Information Notice IN-2014/1900)
  • Not over or within 150m of a crowd of 1,000 persons or more.
  • Not within 50m of any person, vessel, vehicle, or structure which is not under the control of the RP.
  • Not within 30m of any person, vessel, vehicle, or structure which is under the control of the RP
  • The RP has the responsibility that the flight can be conducted safely.

Get a drone that shows you the distance on your receiver or monitor. Any of these Approved professional drones can work. Keep track of your height and distance.

I also found a site called NO FLY ZONE UK which alerts you know where NOT to fly your drone. Another site called  CanIFlyMyDrone.com lets you search attractions by name, city, or country to find out where you can and can’t operate a drone.

More detailed Information can be found below

>  General enquiries about Small Unmanned Aircraft (SUA) and the CAA’s regulatory safety framework for commercial and recreational use:www.caa.co.uk/uas and www.caa.co.uk/cap722

>  Detailed guidance on operating SUA within London and other towns and cities: www.caa.co.uk/in2014081 and www.caa.co.uk/in2014115

>  UK Law: Air Navigation Order (ANO) Articles 166 and 167 pertaining to small unmanned aircraft: www.caa.co.uk/cap393

>  Demonstrating pilot competency at a National Qualified Entity (NQE) for the grant of CAA permission to work commercially (‘aerial work’): www.eurousc.com and www.resource-uas.co.uk and www.caa.co.uk/in2014044

>  Collecting images with an SUA:  Data Protection Act: www.caa.co.uk/in2013027

I hope this helps you as much as it did for me.