Aerial filming with a drone – Key Principles and Regulations Explained

Drone Flying – Key Principles and Regulations Explained

27 Oct Aerial filming with a drone – Key Principles and Regulations Explained

Most people have now heard of drones or UAV’s (unmanned aerial vehicle) and the rise of out the box drones for hobbyists has seen a massive increase in their use. We are often asked to explain who can fly a drone, what kind of drone they can fly, where they can fly it and how it works. So here’s a few pointers to demystify the common questions about the safety regulations surrounding the use of drones.

 Drone Safety

Any operator looking to fly a drone in the UK takes responsibility for observing the rules regarding safety.

The Dronecode provides a few simple steps for pilots to follow:

  • Never loose line of sight of your drone don’t fly higher than 400 feet
  • Always keep your drone away from aircraft, helicopters, airports and airfields

Drones fitted with cameras must not be flown:

  • within 50 metres of people, vehicles, buildings or structures
  • over congested areas or large gatherings such as concerts and sports events.

Basic Principles

Unmanned aircraft with an operating mass of 20 kg or less are defined as ‘Small Unmanned Aircraft’ and according to Article 253 of the ANO 2009 are exempt from the majority of the regulations that are normally applicable to manned aircraft.

Unmanned aircraft with an operating mass of more than 20 kg are subject to regulation as though they are manned aircraft. However, it may be possible to obtain an Exemption from certain regulations with which it is impossible for unmanned aircraft to comply.bizzibox-drone-flying-at-school

Do I need Permission?

Whoever is controlling a small UAV is fully responsible for safety during any flight, but permission (which id different to a license) from the C.A.A may be required in the following circumstances:

  • flying on a commercial basis (i.e. conducting ‘aerial work’ for people seeking the service)
  • flying an aircraft fitted with a camera in populated areas or close to people or properties that are not under your control


Unmanned aircraft with an operating mass of more than 150 kg are subject to European Regulation (EC) No. 216/2008. Accordingly, the design and manufacture of the aircraft must be in accordance with the relevant Certification Specifications similar to manned aircraft and they must be issued with a Certificate of Airworthiness or Permit to Fly. More information is available on the EASA website.

An unmanned aircraft with an operating mass of between 20 kg and 150 kg is required to qualify for a Certificate of Airworthiness under UK regulations. However, if the aircraft is to be flown within a 500 m radius and below 400 ft, or within segregated airspace, the CAA may be prepared to exempt from the requirement for a Certificate of Airworthiness if there is a level of airworthiness assurance appropriate to the UAS and the intended flights.


Unmanned aircraft with an operating mass in excess of 20 kg are required to be registered unless they are flying under an exemption or under the provisions of a ‘B Conditions’ approval issued to an organisation under BCAR A8-9. Unmanned aircraft with an operating mass of more than 150 kg must be registered with the CAA. Once the CAA has processed the application, the aircraft will be issued with a registration ID consisting of five characters starting ‘G-‘ (e.g. G-ABCD) and the details will be entered into the aircraft register. The registration must be displayed permanently on the aircraft in accordance with Part 3 of Schedule 3 to the ANO 2009.

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