The market for ‘Unmanned Aircraft Systems’ (UAS), also commonly referred to as “drones”, is rapidly evolving. Drones have long been associated with specialist use in the military and the high end commercial market. However, drones are frequently becoming a major feature in domestic life. With this, it has now caused law enforcement to be a problematic area, with great uncertainty. However, by adhering to the correct rules – set out in the ‘Drone code’ compiled by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and experts alike in the field of aviation – it is possible for you to continue enjoying this technology and avoid prosecution.
The purpose of these recent guidelines is to ensure you are aware of your responsibilities; particularly to keep people, aircraft and data safe. However, questions of uncertainty can still arise such as: How can I use my drone responsibly? Can I make videos or take images using a camera on my drone? Do I need training to operate a drone? If I am operating a drone for commercial purposes, do I need a licence?
The Air Navigation Order (CAP393) by the CAA encapsulates the pivotal rules. Some of these include: unmanned aircraft systems must always be flown in the operators “line of sight”, meaning you cannot exceed 400 feet in height or 500 metres horizontally. Further, unmanned aircraft systems must be restricted to 50 metres from a building, vehicle or person if there is a camera in operation – S.167 (2) (C). However, in the United States of America, the Federal Aviation Authority is further limiting the parameters of operating drones. Subsequently, similar measures may be enforced in the UK with there being calls for ‘geo-fencing technology’ – technology to prevent drones flying in certain airspace, such as airports, to be mandatory. Further, stricter safety standards have been proposed by the European Aviation Safety Agency. Therefore, should these measures become compulsory in the UK, it would leave major uncertainty. Therefore, it is paramount users and businesses are fundamentally aware they could be liable for both civil and criminal offences, for example, breaching laws such as the Data Protection Act 1998, Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights – the right to respect for private and family life, or personal injury with the only adequate remedy being compensation.
Written by Reece Hall