What is a drone?

A drone is an aircraft without a human pilot onboard. Also referred to as an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) or un-crewed aerial vehicle. Drone use has grown in the UK and the Civil Aviation Authority estimate that there are 130,000 drone users in the UK with only 50,000 of those being registered.

Anyone who operates a drone or unmanned aircraft including model aircraft weighing between 250g and 20kg (or under 250g if it has a camera and isn’t a toy) must complete an online foundation test and register it online with the CAA. Registration costs £16.50, failure to register could result in a fine of £1,000.

How to fly a drone safely

  • Always keep a visual line of sight with your drone.
  • Fly below 400ft or 120m.
  • Follow the drone manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Stay away from airports and airfields.
  • Remember the legal responsibility lies with the drone operator.
  • Failure to fly responsibly may lead to the offences below being committed.

Drone operators should be aware that drones need to be operated responsibly as a number of criminal and civil offences can be committed:

  • If you intentionally or recklessly damage someone’s property you may be liable to a charge of criminal damage. Depending on the value of damage sentencing can be up to 10 years imprisonment on conviction.
  • If you intentionally or recklessly hit someone with a drone you could be liable for a charge of assault.
  • If you fly over someone’s land or property and cause them to feel alarmed or distressed on two or more occasions you may be liable for a charge of harassment which can carry a sentence of 6 months imprisonment on conviction.
  • If you fly over someone’s land or property without their permission you may be liable to nuisance which is a civil matter.

If you have any questions about the legal requirements of owning and operating a drone or have been asked to attend a police interview in relation to the misuse of drones please contact us on 01753 89995 or email enquiries@bpcollins.co.uk.

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