Drone Flying Rules: What You Need To Know
October 30, 2017

As any gadget-lover knows, drones can be fantastic fun to fly – but of course, it’s important to be aware of the drone flying rules to avoid breaking the law.

To help you out, NATS and the CAA have set up a useful website with some key information. It details the whole drone code: where you can fly your drone (and where you can’t), how high your drone can fly, how to avoid flying illegally and more. Download their drone code here or check out the FAQs and infographic below to make sure you’re in the know.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I fly my drone?

The Drone Code website can give you a more comprehensive answer, but the most important areas to avoid are near or over airports, over any people, or private land and property (see below for more detail about airspace rights).

How far can I fly my drone?

In terms of how far you can physically fly a drone this is determined by the operating range of the drone, which is the maximum distance full controls are maintained. In terms of the Drone Code, you should never lose sight of your drone so that you are in control of it at all times. It should also remain within 500m, or less if flying over a restricted area.

How high can a drone fly?

More advanced drones can achieve heights of up to 1km or more and remain under full control, but there are local rules and laws that place limits on the height you can fly your drone at. Your drone must also be in your line of sight and clearly visible at all times, and no more than 400 feet high – less if in areas with restrictions such as near airports.

Is there a weight limit for a drone?

Yes, your drone must be below 250g in “ready to fly” mode to be considered a recreational drone. This includes any batteries or cameras fitted. Laws in the UK have been put forward that will require you to take some form of test if your drone exceeds 250g in weight. These are currently being ratified by the UK government and Civil Aviation Authority and may come into force in the future.

What should I do if I crash my drone?

You should NOT fly your drone until you are completely satisfied it has suffered no external or internal damage that will compromise your control of the drone. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions in the event of crash damage, and replace any damaged items such as propellers immediately to maintain safe function and control of your drone. If you have any doubts, contact the manufacturer or visit their website, where there will be advice on what to do and a list of spare parts available.

Who owns the airspace above private land or property?

Property owners have rights in the airspace above their property, but there are limits. These rights extend to the lower airspace immediately above or around the land, where they can reasonably enjoy their land and property. From around 500-1000 feet above the roof level, the landowner has no more rights than any other member of the public.