There are a number of reasons to fly your drone safely, but the chief safety concerns a drone pilot should be thinking about are in order of importance:
- Safety of members of the public who are not aware of your drone flying activities
- Safety of the people involved in your drone flying activities
- Your own safety
- Security of government property and operations
- Safety of other people’s property
- Safety of other people’s privacy and right to be left alone
- Keeping your drone safe from being damaged and, if it does become damaged, maintaining your drone so that it doesn’t cause problems with the previous safety concerns.
Drone Flying Regulations
Different countries around the world have their own drone flying safety and security regulations. Some, like the UK and other European countries have had them in place for a while. The USA is still finalizing theirs, while other countries have none in place at all.
The UK and most EU countries and the USA require special permission for drone pilots to earn money, or any kind of compensation, for carrying out drone photography and video.
Whether you’re flying for money or just taking it up as a hobby, the following regulations apply in most countries, though some vary slightly and may need to be double checked if you’re travelling to a specific country.
- Don’t fly your drone higher than 400 feet/122m (reason being manned aircraft are supposed to stay above 500ft, so it leaves a 100ft gap between you and them)
- Keep your drone in sight at all times. (if it flies off unexpectedly, you need to know where it went, or at least which direction, or be able to fly it back if you lose video link)
- Keep clear of manned aircraft, which means keeping 5 miles/8km away from airports and busy airfields, as well as watching out for low flying planes and helicopters on special operations in your area – best to ignore the first rule and stay grounded in this case.
- Don’t fly your drone over people's heads or moving vehicles (if your drone crashes on either you could cause serious injury or even death), and keep 160 feet/50 meters between your drone and large crowds
- Don’t fly your drone in very high winds, or extreme weather with low visibility.
- Do not fly your drone under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Do not fly your drone over or near power stations, busy highways, railroads, gas plants and other sensitive infrastructure facilities, unless you have express permission.
- Don’t use your drone to spy on people, to take their picture or video them without their permission.
- Check local laws and restricted no fly zones before flying your drone at new locations or in other countries.