There’s barely a week goes by these days without reports of a worrying ‘near-miss’ between a drone and a passenger plan in the skies over the UK. However, the one that hit the news last week was possibly the most worrying of all – with a drone passing a mere 20m (66 feet) from an Airbus A320 over Central London, in proximity of The Shard. You can read the full story here:
Quite why this story hit the top of the news agenda is obvious – with simultaneous threats to life in multiple locations: a packed passenger plane, a busy district of a capital city (including London Bridge station – a major transport terminal – nearby) and of course a high profile, high density landmark building. But if reports are to be believed, these potential disasters are being narrowly avoided on a very regular basis. It may only be a matter of time before something terrible comes to pass.
Here at Geocast, we appreciate the value of great aerial footage more than most. Being engaged with the tourism industry, our drone work has transformed many client films – offering a fresh, breathtaking perspective on some of the UK’s most recognisable destinations. But it’s not as simple as sending the craft up and capturing the world below. There are a whole raft of rules and regulations we must follow to ensure that we are doing so safely. These can vary from basic risk management checks which must be taken in EVERY location to obtaining special clearances from the relevant authorities to operate in certain areas. For example, huge swathes of the UK are under designated flight paths – no surprise when you consider that there are currently over 40 commercial airports in operation. As a basic pre-deployment measure, all drone pilots should notify any such airport of their intention to fly under any of these flight paths on any given day and obtain clearance to do so.
Even away from flight paths there are plenty of stipulations such as:
you mustn’t fly a drone within 50 metres of anything that the drone pilot isn’t in control of, such as other people, vessels, vehicles, or structures.
drone must always be within line-of-sight of the pilot
drones are not allowed within 150 metres of any congested area or “an organised open-air assembly of more than 1,000 persons.”
When you consider these in combination, it narrows the locations and situations in which a drone can be flown at all.
The authorities are reviewing and updating policies relating to drones on an ongoing basis. Any drone pilot – whether professional or hobbyist – should keep themselves fully abreast of these and adhere strictly. AlWAYS err on the side of caution. Failure to do this and avail oneself of the necessary clearances may result in a significant fine or up to six months imprisonment for the most flagrant flouting and public endangerment.
Geocast TV adheres strictly to the rules and regulations of drone use… and it hasn’t stopped us from producing some stunning work. It’s just a question of responsible flying. To ensure you are operating your drone safely, please check the following: