CAA Airspace Rules for UK and Drones

You might think that air traffic control and airspace only applies to commercial airliners but actually, drones are governed by the same set of laws and so the airspace that your flight is taking place in is really important.

That’s why it is so vital that we have all the relevant information about where your flight is taking place before we can provide you with an accurate quotation.   The best way to let me have all the information that I need to be able to price your flight then it’s best to use my enquiry form which will walk you through the process.  Without this, I’ll only be able to provide you with a ballpark cost and this might well change upon the completion of my desk research.

Airspace in the UK as it applies to drones is broadly split into two categories.

Category D – This is airspace that is controlled by the National Air Traffic Service (NATS) and I need to get their permission to fly there to fly the larger drones in my fleet.  Where the airspace is particularly sensitive, around an airport for example, I might also need to apply to ‘unlock’ the drone to be able to fly within the area at the appointed date.  Without this being completed, the drone will physically be unable to take off or flying within the area.  Neither of these incur any cost but they do both require extra time to be allowed in order for the necessary paperwork to be completed and returned.

Category G – This is uncontrolled airspace which craft are allowed to fly in as they wish, within the sight of the pilot and following the principles of safe flight at all times.  Drone laws will still apply but there’s no need to apply for special permission from NATS (although it may still be a courtesy to inform them).

It’s worth knowing that smaller drones (in the category of under 7kg) don’t require special NATS permissions to fly within Category D airspace.  However, they might not be the right tool for the job so it’s certainly something that I will discuss with you when you are looking to book.

Airspace zones are defined vertically as well as horizontally so we use specialist software to determine where your flight path will cross.  Zones such as airports are particularly protected (for obvious) reasons and the boundaries of this protection can stretch much further that you would imagine.  It’s just one of the considerations when it comes to planning the safest and most efficient way to meet your drone photography and videography needs but it’s a really important one to have set at the beginning of the planning process.

Just get in touch if you’d like to talk about how airspace affects your drone hire plans and we’re happy to help.

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