When you get in touch with us or any other professional drone pilot, we always have lots of questions about exactly where you flight is going to be taking place. This isn’t because we are just very nosey! We need to understand the location really well before we can advise you of how things might work because we are governed by strict laws about where we can fly in relation to people, structures, vessels and vehicles.
Here’s a bit of explanation about what this means so you can better understand why we ask to know so much about your job up front.
Maximum Height that a Drone is Allowed to Fly
Drones are only allowed to fly up to a height of 400 metres / 120 feet to minimise the risk of conflict with a manned aircraft. This height is measured as being above ground level and so it changes with the terrain.
Being ‘Under a Drone Pilot’s Control’
The phrase to be ‘under the control of the pilot’ is a really important one as it governs the distance that they are able to fly. Being ‘under the control’ of the drone pilot means that someone is either there solely for the purpose of the drone flight or that they have been briefed and can be reasonably expected to following instructions and safety procedures to avoid any accidents occurring.
Drone Flight Distances in Flight
The law states that a drone pilot must keep 50m away from people, structure, vessels and vehicles that are not under their control (unless this is an event with more than 999 people in attendance in which case the distance is 150m). This distance is reduced to 30m during the takeoff and landing phases.
This distance takes the form of a bubble so if you imagine that there is a 50m / 150m piece of string attached to the bottom of the drone, if you can stretch that string in any direction and touch a person, structure, vehicle or vessel that isn’t under the control of the pilot then you are inside the bubble and flying too close. applied like a bubble and the easiest way to visualise it is to imagine that there is a 50m (or 150m) piece of string attached to the bottom of the drone. Outside of this distance, a pilot can fly as they wish with the overriding principle of safe flight at all times still applying.
What does this mean for You?
A drone pilot will need to know in advance if the flight you would like will cross these boundaries. If so, that doesn’t mean that it can’t take place but it does mean that further research will be needed which will require extra planning time or could incur expense if extra staff are required to meet safety standards. We’re always happy to talk things through with you so just get in touch if you have questions.