Drone photography UK laws

By | UK Drone Legalities | No Comments

UK drone photography laws are designed to protect the safety and privacy of the general public. Newly introduced European general data protection regulation laws known as ‘GDPR’ have increased privacy protection for aerial photography in Cumbria and the UK as a whole. As drone technology is still relatively new, legislation is having to play catch up and adapt to their use. Anyone using drones for aerial photography has a responsibility to understand existing laws and keep up with changes so as not to fall foul of the ever changing laws.

The first important thing to understand is the difference in laws applying to drone hobby flyers and commercial drone operators. Anyone offering services like drone roof surveys, aerial filming and drone photography for payment must have approval to operate from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Approval comes in the form of a permission for commercial operation from the CAA called a PFCO, not a UK drone licence as many people believe.

Obtaining CAA Permission For Commercial Operations involves studying and passing an exam on drone laws in the UK, health and safety considerations, how to ensure a drone is airworthy and other important subjects. The operator needs to produce a very detailed operations manual listing all processes and procedures for commercial drone operations. A pilot also has to pass a practical test demonstrating that they are sufficiently proficient in flying a drone.

Hobby drone flyers don’t need to pass exams and tests currently, but changes are coming. Some may resist this, but drones can be dangerous in the wrong hands so it’s reasonable that all users should have an understanding of the risks and how to mitigate them. Public perception of drones is quite negative, so steps to improve safety can also help the drone industry to be viewed more positively.

The next important drone photography UK laws relate to privacy and data protection. It’s legal to take a person’s photograph in a public place in the UK, but the use of the images does need to be considered. If you plan to sell or profit from pictures of identifiable people they need to give their consent. Naturally you need to be sensitive to photographing children without parental consent, and bear in mind that some may be under protection and can’t have their images published online. Drone filming comes under the same legislation as CCTV filming and comes under the jurisdiction of the information commissioners office.

Drone photography UK laws must be taken seriously. Greater regulation of the use of unmanned aircraft is likely over coming years, and there will be more resources for enforcement.

Essential tips for buying a second hand drone

By | Uncategorised | No Comments

The popularity of drones has soared in recent years, and thousands of people are taking flying as a new hobby. There are also a growing number of people becoming CAA pfco approved drone pilots ready to join the rapidly expanding new drone industry. Prices have fallen as drones have advanced and become more widely available, but the costs are still out of the reach of many people. Buying second hand drones can be the answer.

You can pick up cheap drones to get a taste of flying for under a hundred pounds, but these have limited use. Battery life is often only a few minutes, and cheap drones struggle to fly outdoors in anything other than a light breeze. If aerial photography appeals to you, drones for under a hundred pounds can’t produce anything other than basic snapshots. Buying second hand drones gives you greater options, and you can pick up aircraft like the DJI Mavic or DJI Phantom 4 Pro at bargain prices if you shop around in Cumbria, such as drone junkyard or Facebook Marketplace.

There are some pitfalls to look out for when buying second hand drones, and the following tips will help you to avoid them.

  • Check the general condition. It a drone has scratches and damage to the paintwork, it’s an indication it’s seen heavy use. It may also mean it’s been in some collisions and rough landings.
  • Check the propellers. Look for small cracks and dents, and make sure the props turn smoothly when you turn them by hand. If their loose or don’t turn evenly it’s a warning sign.
  • Check the battery. Ideally you want to see the battery charge fully when buying second hand drones. Look for physical damage (particularly swelling) or tarnishing around the contacts where the battery connects to the drone.
  • Ask to see the drone fly. This is the ultimate test when buying second hand drones. The motors should run smoothly and rev when the thrust is applied. If a seller resists demonstrating the drone in flight then walk away
  • Check that the camera and gimbal both work correctly
  • Ask how the drone has been used. If the owner is a CAA approved drone pilot it may have been used on a daily basis commercially. A commercial drone pilot will have maintained and looked after the aircraft, but it could be near the end of its life.

Buying second hand drones can save you hundreds of pounds, but you must check the aircraft and be prepared to walk away if there are signs of damage or heavy use.

drone trespass shoot down drone uk with shotgun in cumbria and the lake district

Can you shoot down a drone over your property in the UK?

By | Uncategorised | No Comments

Can you shoot down a drone hovering or flying over your property or land in the UK? The short answer is no, for several reasons.

Can you shoot down a drone is a question asked by those who fear drone technology and want to protect their privacy. Many people believe drones are used for ‘snooping’ and to peep through bedroom or bathroom windows. These ideas are of course ridiculous! Concerns over privacy must be taken seriously, but the abundance of CCTV cameras, dashcams and other monitoring and recording devices are far more of a threat than drones. There is however a drone code and if drone operators follow that code then homeowners and landowners have nothing to fear fear from drones. That said, there are idiots out there who fly their drones irresponsibly and without regard for the general public, so could you shoot the drone down if it is flying over your land?

Firstly, in the UK the authorities take a very dim view of people discharging firearms in built up areas and it is also illegal to shoot down any aircraft (that includes drones) in the UK (unless you are the UK military that is). So if you were to shoot down a drone over your land you would be breaking the law. If after shooting down a drone it subsequently crashed and injured someone or damaged property then you could be potentially liable. Also, if the drone was not been flown dangerously and you shot it down then you could also be prosecuted for criminal damage.

The rules in the UK that govern drone flights are administered by the Civil aviation authority (CAA) and in regard to flying drones over property then it is totally legal as long as the following conditions are met:

  • The drone operator has the permission of the landowner of the take off and landing location (regardless of if it then flies over private property).
  • The drone is at least 50 metres away from private property or people (unless over congested areas or a gathering of more than 1,000 people, in which case the drone needs to be 150 metres away.
  • The drone does not exceed an altitude of 120 metres .
  • The drone is not being flown dangerously or recklessly.

It may be possible to take legal action for trespass if the drone is flying low over your property but this fall under civil law and has never been tested in court in the UK. All you can really do is phone 101 and report the activity to the Police or if it is your neighbour conducting the drone flights then speak to them and ask them to stop.

Here is a spoof video of a landowner shooting down a drone (if it was real then he could have faced prosecution for breaking the law).

Can I shoot down a drone is something TV celebrity Richard Madeley asked himself a couple of years ago, but fortunately he dealt with matters in a different way. A drone flew over his garden in Cornwall, leading to a confrontation with the drone pilot. The police were later involved and this is the best course of action if you do feel a drone is being used to spy on you or causing a nuisance.

On a similar subject, certain landowners in the Lake District National Park (such as the National Trust) have banned all drone flights over their land and near their properties – is this legal and enforceable? No not really, UK air laws fall under the jurisdiction of the CAA and as long as the UK drone code is being followed then the landowner cannot prevent flights over their land or within 50 metres of their property. There are a couple of exceptions though in the case of the National Trust; they have some bye laws in place since the 1960’s which prevent commercial photography of their property or disturbing certain wildlife on their land, which could be applied to drone activity, but the fines are ridiculously low (about an old shilling), so it’s not really worth enforcing

 

Reckless flying: Complaints about drones soar in Cumbria

By | UK Drone Legalities | No Comments

Angry members of the public have reported reckless and low flying drones to Cumbria police

Cumbria Police are dealing with a 150 per cent surge in complaints about drones – with reckless handling and low flying of the hand-controlled devices prompting angry calls from residents.

Newly released information shows that the Cumbrian force was notified of an individual flying a drone over HMP Haverigg, near Millom, in both 2016 and 2017, while officers were also alerted to someone flying a drone over gas works at Rampside, near Barrow.

A total of five householders contacted police after spotting a drone flying over their home with five more irritated by a drone hovering over their garden.

Two further complaints were received about drones being flown erratically over traffic, while officers were contacted on three occasions when they were spotted flying near to a school and children’s playground.

Now, Cumbria police are urging people to be aware of the law surrounding the use of drones in a public place to make sure they do not end up committing a criminal offence.

Fly safe and fly legal in Cumbria and the Lake District by always following the Drone Code  http://dronesafe.uk/drone-code/

Explosive DJI M600 drones used in Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro assassination attempt

By | Uncategorised | No Comments

On Saturday 4th August, as Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro gave a speech in Caracas before a large military gathering, two DJI Matrice M600 drones carrying explosives approached,and exploded close to the President. While President Maduro was not injured, the Venezuelan information minister Jorge Rodriguez said that the attack injured seven soldiers. It’s a method of assault that only a few years ago was unthinkable, but has quickly become inevitable and will probably become more common.

What isn’t clear though, was who was operating the drone and for what purpose. One theory is that the Venezuelan government or military were operating their own M600 drone and when they lost control they had to destroy it.  Another possible theory is the drone malfunctioned and exploded (the M600 carries 6 x 130 wh lithium polymer batteries who could explode). The Venezuelan goverment claim it was an assassination attempt  and two DJI  Matrice M600 drones were each laden with 1 kilogram of C-4 explosive, capable of creating a blast radius of 50 meters. One exploded mid air and the other crashed into a block of flats, which firefighter initiall said was a gas tank explosion.

Video here

 

The DJI M600 is generally considered a professional-grade drone, primarily for filmmakers and photographers, but has a strong build, and is capable of lifting a 6 kilo payload.

DJI Matrice M600 drone, as per the drone that exploded in Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro assassination attempt

DJI Matrice M600 drone, as per the drone used that exploded in Venezuela

CAA reminds drone operators of new rules from July 30th 2018 – CAP1687

By | UK Drone Legalities | No Comments

In the UK the Civil Aviation Authority has issued guidance that all model aircraft/drone operators should read. As of August 2018, 400 feet is a hard ceiling for UAV/RPA/Drone operations and CAP1687: Air Navigation (Amendment) Order 2018 – Guidance for small unmanned aircraft users. This is particularly important across Cumbria in the Lake District, due to RAF & Ministry of Defence low flying training and the need to maintain seperation between drones and aircraft.

Image depicting the CAA UK Drone Height Limit 2018. UAV maximum height. drone seperation

Image depicting the CAA UK Drone Height Limit 2018. UAV maximum height.

 

On 30 May 2018, the United Kingdom Government published an amendment to the UK Air Navigation Order 2016 (ANO) which contains its changes to the legislation regarding the operation of small unmanned aircraft.

 

The amendment is published as Statutory Instrument (SI) 2018 No. 623, entitled ‘The Air Navigation (Amendment) Order 2018’. This can be found at: www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2018/623/made. Some articles (parts) of the amendment come into force on 30 July 2018, but others take a further 16 months, coming into force on 30 November 2019.

 

Effective from 30 July 2018

 

A 400 ft operating height limitation for all small unmanned aircraft

A new limitation on the closest distance that small unmanned aircraft weighing 7 kg or less may be flown near specific types of aerodrome

 

Changes to terminology with the introduction of the terms ‘remote pilot’ and ‘SUA operator’ in place of the previously-used term ‘person in charge’

 

Minor corrections to the ANO 2016 to provide clarification or to correct previous errors

 

Effective from 30 November 2019

 

A requirement for the registration of SUA & drone operators

A requirement for the competency of remote pilots to be tested

 

This is the bit traditional model fliers will be interested in:-

 

Meaning of “remote pilot” and “SUA operator” 94G In this Order –

 

(a) the “remote pilot”, in relation to a small unmanned aircraft, is an individual who –

(i) operates the flight controls of the small unmanned drone aircraft by manual use of remote controls, or

(ii) when the small unmanned drone aircraft is flying automatically, monitors its course and is able to intervene and change its course by operating its flight controls,

(b) the “SUA drone operator”, in relation to a small unmanned aircraft, is the person who has the management of the small unmanned aircraft.

Small unmanned surveillance aircraft

 

95 (1) The SUA drone operator must not cause or permit a small unmanned surveillance aircraft to be flown in any of the circumstances described in paragraph (2), and the remote pilot of a small unmanned surveillance aircraft must not fly it in any of those circumstances, except in

accordance with a permission issued by the CAA.

 

(2) The circumstances referred to in paragraph (1) are –

(a) over or within 150 metres of any congested area;

(b) over or within 150 metres of an organised open-air assembly of more than 1,000 persons;

(c) within 50 metres of any vessel, vehicle or structure which is not under the control of the SUA operator or the remote pilot of the aircraft; or

(d) subject to paragraphs (3) and (4), within 50 metres of any person.

(3) Subject to paragraph (4), during take-off or landing, a small unmanned surveillance aircraft must not be flown within 30 metres of any person.

(4) Paragraphs (2)(d) and (3) do not apply to the remote pilot of the small unmanned surveillance aircraft or a person under the control of the remote pilot of the aircraft.

(5) In this article, “a small unmanned surveillance aircraft” means a small unmanned aircraft which is equipped to undertake any form of surveillance or data acquisition.

 

Read it in full here

 

http://publicapps.caa.co.uk/docs/33/CAP1687-SUAANOAmendmentOrder-3.pdf

Hovershotz aerial drone photography filming & video showreel Lake District

By | Aerial Photography Filming & Surveys in the Lake District. | No Comments

Hovershotz aerial drone photography filming & video show reel Lake District

Our showreel video, showcasing some of  aerial drone videography & filming from 2017 & 2018. Hovershotz specialise in aerial drone filming and photography across cumbria & the Lake District. We hold CAA PFCO permissions to operate commercially – day or night. The locations include Blea Tarn & the Langdales, Sellafield, Coniston Water, Capernwray Quarry, Claife, Windermere Lake, Castleford, Barton Grange, Kendal Castle, Grasmere, Hodge Close, Coniston Copper Mines, Morecambe Bay, Haweswater, Sharp Edge & Blencathra.

Aerial drone sizzle reel

Aerial drone demo reel

© Hovershotz aerial drone photography, filming and video Lake District Cumbria & Lancashire

How to avoid issues with your drone and low flying military aircraft RAF & MOD in the Lake District

By | Uncategorised | No Comments

How to avoid issues with your drone and low flying military aircraft RAF & MOD in the Lake District

The Lake District in Cumbria is a designated low flying area LFA17, flying last low as 250 ft over land and even lower over water.. The Lake District is also a World Heritage site of outstanding natural beauty and a magnet for drone photographers wishing to film. Both can happily coexist if a few rules are followed.

  • Firstly follow the drone code http://dronesafe.uk/drone-code/ Please note that the 400ft limit could bring drones and military jets into the same airspace, so additional measures need to be adopted to maintain separation.
  • Check the UK military low flying timetables https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/operational-low-flying-training-timetable – Please note that these are only a guide and the jets don’t follow this timetable to the exact minute and are often delayed for various reasons.
  • Inform MOD low level advisory service of any UAV flight by contacting them on 0800 515544 email SWK-lowflying@mod.gov.uk at least 4 hours (preferably the day before) before any proposed drone flight giving them full details of your flight including location and height etc.
  • Use the drone assist app (assuming you can get a mobile signal as the Lake District is notorious for lack of mobile signal) to alert all airspace users as to your activity http://dronesafe.uk/safety-apps/
  • Always be aware that fast jets approach very quickly and you will see them long before you hear them. Ideally have an observer or spotter with you to observe the sky and alert you to any danger.
  • Always plan what you will do if you see a fastjet and what actions you will take to avoid any collision so that you are prepared (usually this is to decrease the drones altitude as quickly as possible, assuming this can be done safely.
RAF UK military freephone number 0800 515544

Let’s share the air safely. By phoning this number you can notify UK military aviation of your drone activity which can help maintain separation in the air. Flying a drone? Call the low flying booking cell on 0800 515544

Low level advisory service
Telephone: 0800 515544

Low flying information for England, Wales and Scotland
SWK-lowflying@mod.gov.uk
Telephone: 01780 417558
Monday to Friday, 8:00am to 4:00pm

UK CAA reminds drone operators of new rules from July 30th 2018 – CAP1687

By | UK Drone Legalities | No Comments

n the UK the Civil Aviation Authority has issued guidance that all model aircraft/drone operators should read. At the end of this month 400′ is a hard ceiling for model/RPA operations and

CAP1687: Air Navigation (Amendment) Order 2018 -Guidance for small unmanned aircraft users

On 30 May 2018, the United Kingdom Government published an amendment to the UK Air Navigation Order 2016 (ANO) which contains its changes to the legislation regarding the operation of small
unmanned aircraft.

The amendment is published as Statutory Instrument (SI) 2018 No. 623, entitled ‘The Air Navigation (Amendment) Order 2018’. This can be found at: www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2018/623/made. Some articles (parts) of the amendment come into force on 30 July 2018, but others take a further 16 months, coming into force on 30 November 2019.

Effective from 30 July 2018

A 400 ft operating height limitation for all small unmanned aircraft
A new limitation on the closest distance that small unmanned aircraft weighing 7 kg or less may be flown near specific types of aerodrome

Changes to terminology with the introduction of the terms ‘remote pilot’ and ‘SUA operator’ in place of the previously-used term ‘person in charge’

Minor corrections to the ANO 2016 to provide clarification or to correct previous errors

Effective from 30 November 2019

A requirement for the registration of SUA operators
A requirement for the competency of remote pilots to be tested

This is the bit traditional model fliers will be interested in:-

Meaning of “remote pilot” and “SUA operator” 94G In this Order –

(a) the “remote pilot”, in relation to a small unmanned aircraft, is an individual who –
(i) operates the flight controls of the small unmanned aircraft by manual use of remote controls, or
(ii) when the small unmanned aircraft is flying automatically, monitors its course and is able to intervene and change its course by operating its flight controls,
(b) the “SUA operator”, in relation to a small unmanned aircraft, is the person who has the management of the small unmanned aircraft.
Small unmanned surveillance aircraft

95 (1) The SUA operator must not cause or permit a small unmanned surveillance aircraft to be flown in any of the circumstances described in paragraph (2), and the remote pilot of a small unmanned surveillance aircraft must not fly it in any of those circumstances, except in
accordance with a permission issued by the CAA.

(2) The circumstances referred to in paragraph (1) are –
(a) over or within 150 metres of any congested area;
(b) over or within 150 metres of an organised open-air assembly of more than 1,000 persons;
(c) within 50 metres of any vessel, vehicle or structure which is not under the control of the SUA operator or the remote pilot of the aircraft; or
(d) subject to paragraphs (3) and (4), within 50 metres of any person.
(3) Subject to paragraph (4), during take-off or landing, a small unmanned surveillance aircraft must not be flown within 30 metres of any person.
(4) Paragraphs (2)(d) and (3) do not apply to the remote pilot of the small unmanned surveillance aircraft or a person under the control of the remote pilot of the aircraft.
(5) In this article, “a small unmanned surveillance aircraft” means a small unmanned aircraft which is equipped to undertake any form of surveillance or data acquisition.

Hovershotz aerial drone photography filming & suverys Lake District Cumbria

Hovershotz Drone used to survey field with aerial photographs in search of scorch marks to reveal hidden archaeological site at Sellet Hall Cumbria

Parch marks identified by drone reveal hidden archaeological objects

By | Aerial Photography Filming & Surveys | No Comments

The recent sustained summer 2018 heatwave and dry spell across Cumbria & the Lake District is revealing hidden archaeological objects by tell tale scorch or parch marks, these can be identified with a survey by camera drone.

Some of these apparitions – called ‘crop marks’ or ‘parch marks’ – reflect sites previously known to archaeologists and historians, but many of the older outlines represent fresh discoveries, only made possible by the June and July 2018 long hot dry spell. An ideal way of identifying these is aerial filming by using a drone.

Hovershotz were commissioned to conduct an aerial survey of several acres of farm fields at Sellet Hall near Kirkby Lonsdale Cumbria to locate and identify a medieval chapel once thought to have existed locally. Using a DJI Inspire 2 drone equipped with Zenmuse X5S camera, a series of 4K videos were filmed along with 20 megapixel still images from a variety of altitudes. After reviewing the footage, the tell tale parch marks identified what is thought to be the outline of the chapel. The footage and images will be forwarded to archaeologists at Lancaster University to review with a view to conducting a Ground-penetrating radar (GPR) survey.