• Ensuring that you stay within the law

    A PFAW only authorises the commercial use of a drone from a safety perspective. Operators are still subject to rules and regulations imposed by other bodies and organisations. These may include the emergency services, the Highways agency and local authorities. Before beginning a job in a particular location a PFAW holder should always check with all relevant bodies to establish what, if any, restrictions apply. Operators should also be sure they understand the rules around trespass and nuisance

    Some help on defining ‘person(s) under the control of the drone operator’

    Due to the large number of possible circumstances, the CAA can only give general guidelines, however a person or people under the control of the drone operator can generally be defined as:

    • Anyone solely present for the purpose of participating in the drone flight operation.
    • Anyone under the control of the event or site manager who can reasonably be expected to follow directions and safety precautions to avoid unplanned interactions with the drone. Such people could include building-site or other industrial workers, film and TV production staff and any other pre-briefed, nominated individuals with an essential task to perform in relation to the event.

    Spectators or other people gathered for sports or other mass public events that have not been specifically established for the purpose of the drone operation are generally not regarded as being ‘under the control of the drone operator’.

    In principle, someone who is under the control of the drone operator at a mass public event must be able to:

    • decide to participate or not to participate;
    • broadly understand the risks involved;
    • have reasonable safeguards established for them by the site manager and drone operator;
    • not be restricted from taking part in the event or activity if they decide not to participate with the drone operation.

    For example: if filming at a large music festival it would not be sufficient for the audience to be informed of a drone filming via a public address systems, or in advance by e-mail or text. Those communication channels would not satisfy the points above.

    Permission has occasionally been granted for drone flights at public events by special arrangement. These permissions have been extremely limited and usually involve a segregated take-off site with the drone operating only vertically within strict lateral limits. There is no allowance for direct over-flight of persons.