- Got a new drone for Christmas but nervous about flying it?
- The CAA has all you need to know to safely take to the skies and enjoy your new hobby
Many lucky people will have unwrapped a drone this Christmas, but with new registration laws and ever-increasing attention being paid to drones, they may be apprehensive about flying their new machine. The advice from the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is to enjoy flying your drone safely and legally by following some simple actions.
The first thing to do is make sure you read the instructions. Drones can be very easy to fly but are high-tech devices. So, if you don't understand how some of the systems like battery low power warnings, compass setting and return to home work, you could damage your drone, leading to an expensive first flight.
If your drone is over 250 grams and you'll be flying outside, then by law you also need to register with the CAA. Rather than registering the drone, we record the adult that will be responsible for the drone itself. It costs £9 per drone owner and can be done very quickly and simply at https://register-drones.caa.co.uk/
Anyone who is going to be flying the drone needs to look at our online education package at the same website, and pass a short multiple-choice test to get their flyer ID. As well as being a legal requirement, the information will help set you up as a safe drone flyer and provide you with invaluable information to make you more confident with your drone.
You can always refer back to the safety information in the Dronecode, as this provides all the basic safety rules and advice that you need to comply with. Key to this, is remaining below 400ft (120 Meters), keeping clear of aircraft and airfields, and not flying too close to people and property.
There is a fine of up to £1,000 for anyone found guilty of not complying with the drone registration requirements.
UK airspace is some of the busiest in the world and even while keeping below the 400ft maximum flying height you may well be sharing the skies with other aircraft, such as emergency helicopters. There are a number of free apps that you can use to check the airspace in your location. We recommend using one of the approved apps listed at https://dronesafe.uk/safety-apps/.
Individual airfields also have restricted zones around them that it is illegal to fly a drone in without permission of the airfield or air traffic control. You can see each airfield's zone mapped out here https://dronesafe.uk/restrictions/.
Once you have mastered your drone, many people look to use their skills commercially, say as a drone photographer or for building inspections. If you want to go down that route then you will need to gain a commercial approval from the CAA, as only people with that permission can make money from their drone flying.
However, if your drone is a toy that will only ever be flown indoors then none of the aviation safety rules apply, but please be careful flying around people and pets as even the smallest drone propellers can hurt if they hit you.
Jonathan Nicholson, Assistant Director at the Civil Aviation Authority, said: “Getting a drone for Christmas is an exciting present, but drones aren't toys and we understand that you may be apprehensive about how and where to fly it.
"This is also the first Christmas that drone registration has been required. So, our short handy set of tips is designed to get you into the air and enjoying your new drone as quickly and safely as possible.”
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For further information and interview enquiries, please contact the CAA at 0333 103 6000 (08:30 - 17:30 Monday to Friday). Out of hours: 07789 745 636.
Alternatively, you can email on: firstname.lastname@example.org (monitored during office hours)