What are the drone laws in the UK, when's it illegal to use them and is there a fine?

The unmanned aerial gadgets, most of which are lighter than 250g, have also caused near-misses in our skies. Here are the new laws on the use of these gadgets.

What are the drone laws in the UK?

You do not need to register your drone or get a permit for a recreational drone in the UK.

If you are planning to use your drone for paid work, you will need Permission for Aerial Work – which must be reviewed annually.

The Civil Aviation Association is quick to point out that to keep drone flight safe and legal you may need permission depending on where you would like to fly the drone.

The Department of Transport launched new rules over the use of drones on July 30 2018.

  • Drones must fly below an altitude of 400ft
  • Drones that weigh more than 250g will need to be formally registered with the CAA
  • Drone pilots must be able to present their registration documents when asked to do so by police
  • Drone users will be told to use apps to plan their flights, to ensure they are not entering unsafe or no-fly zones

But the rules to follow are these key ones:

  • Keep your drone within your line of sight and at a maximum height of 400ft.
  • Make sure your drone is within 500m of you horizontally.
  • Always fly well away from aircraft, helicopters, airports, and airfields.
  • If it is fitted with a camera, make sure it is at least 50m away from a person, vehicle, building or structure not owned or controlled by the pilot.
  • Camera-equipped drones must not be flown within 150 m of a congested area of a large group of people.

When is it illegal to use drones?

Aside from military missions, there are thousands of civilian drones used for aerial crop surveys, photography, search and rescue operations and delivering medical supplies to inaccessible reasons, among others.

Drones have been banned from flying above 400ft, and within one kilometre (0.6 miles) of airport boundaries.

It comes after 93 near-misses between drones and aircrafts were reported in 2017.

Children could be banned from flying drones weighing at least 250 grams.


Is there a fine?

Anyone breaching these restrictions will face penalties of up to £2,500 and could be charged with recklessly or negligently acting in a manner likely to endanger an aircraft or any person in an aircraft.

This has a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

Other measures being considered include giving police the power to issue on-the-spot fines of up to £300 for misuse and the ability to seize drones being used irresponsibly.

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