Drones really are an “in” thing right now. What started out as relatively small remote controlled helicopters have developed into extremely high-tech gadgets that even offer HD video and imagery delivered to smartphones and tablets that let you share your footage with friends and family over social media. As with most advancements in technology, drones have grown in popularity at a rapid rate but the growth in interest, the size and styles available, and sales haven’t come without the odd hitch here or there.
Unlike with more traditional remote controlled toys, there have been occasions where more expensive and advanced drones with high definition cameras have been flown at dangerous heights and in potentially dangerous locations. For example, according to an article published on BBC News, there were almost 100 incidents involving drones and aircrafts in 2017 compared to zero in 2013.
If you’re considering buying a drone then it’ll certainly help you to learn about the regulations that are now in place here in the UK surrounding drone usage, including where and when you can fly your drone and the potential repercussions if you’re caught using it somewhere you shouldn’t be.
First thing’s first: what is a drone?
A drone is defined as an unmanned aircraft or aerial vehicle which utilise a form of ground controller and communication method between the control and the device itself. They’ve been used in the military for some time now and have been used to take photographs and record video images, and now they have made their way onto the commercial market.
In a commercial sense, a drone is defined as being affordable, commercially available and weighing less than 20kg. Of course, the term ‘affordable’ depends on your own sense and understanding of the word, but the types of drones available to buy here at BT Shop such as this DJI Mavic Air Fly More Combo Drone – are certainly far more affordable than those used by the military!
The majority of drones come in the form of Quadcopters, which are four-pronged devices that use four propellers turning at different speeds controlled by a communication device (similar to a traditional remote controlled car handset). By adjusting the speed of the propellers the drone – or quadcopter – can go higher, lower, forwards, backwards, left and right.
Where can I fly my drone?
The UK ‘Dronecode’ states that owners cannot fly a drone of any size or kind within 50 metres of a building that is not either owned or controlled by the drone operator. Essentially, if you live in a housing estate or semi-detached property in a close then you may need to find a large open space to fly your drone in.
That being said, you then risk your drone getting into danger with other obstacles around, such as trees and even power lines; and many parks now have signs stipulating that they are “no flying zones.”
The laws surrounding drones in the UK have changed as of 30th July 2018 with it now being deemed illegal to fly a device above 400 feet (120 metres) or within 1km of an airport or airfield boundary.
Are there any other drone laws in the UK that I need to know?
If you’re unsure of whether you can fly, or should be flying, your drone in a certain area that contact your local council. While many areas already mentioned will have signs indicating where and when drones can and cannot be flown, it’s better to be safe than sorry. You can download a copy of the official Dronecode here.
National Parks in the UK including the Lake District and Peak District have clear rules and regulations relating to the flying of drones. The Lakes allow you to fly any device under the 20kg limit within the National Park land, while the Peak District takes the exact opposite approach.
Which is the best drone to buy, and what can they do?
The foldable DJI Mavic Air drone, available in either a black, flame red or arctic white design, is a high-end device that knows no bounds. It features a 3-axis camera that provides incredible stability for the very best shots of the area with horizontal, vertical and 180-degree panoramas.
If that’s not enough it’s also capable of recording incredible 4K video footage at 30 frames per second and recording in UHD quality at 100 Mbps. It also offers 8GB of internal storage to ensure that you can store every second of your film with playback available on iOS and Android devices.
For those looking for a smaller but equally effective drone, the DJI Spark Quadcopter Mini Drone combines all of the best features of the larger models into a more compact design.
Capable of taking off within one second of activation through an intuitive facial recognition system, you can have the DJI Spark up and in the air in no time with up to 16 minutes of flight on a full charge so you can get snapping those aerial photos without even needing a remote or mobile device.