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Aerial Filming, Be sensible, Be safe

A few years ago the words drone, multirotor, quadcopter or UAV were barely in the public consciousness. Now however they’ve become synonymous with the ability to produce some great aerial footage at a fraction of the cost of a traditional helicopter shoot.

However the technology has very much outpaced the regulatory bodies and such filming can if not careful be fraught with problems. Be that from unlicensed operators, poor equipment or poor planning. The technology is now attainable to everyone and in recent Christmas’s have been the “hot topic” of wish lists for children (and adults) everywhere. The reason for this is two fold; firstly the ability to fly has become far easier thanks to ever advancing on-board systems to control, position and stabilise the aircraft and secondly the miniaturisation of cameras whilst retaining some sense of “broadcast quality”. You only have to look at the some of the stunning imagery that the tiny GoPro Hero 4 can produce to see that camera technology has come a long way in a very short time.

DJI Inspire 1The shrinking, and thus lightening of camera tech, means the once prohibitive weight of cameras of the past means that can be easily mounted to almost anything, and so now to the UAV, Drone, Multirotor, call it what you will.

As with all new technologies it will take a while for people to find a best practice that allows for the easiest and safest way of operating these systems, and the UK CAA are having to play catch up with the speed of technology in order to regulate these systems to ensure safety for all involved.

This comes as one of the first UK convictions has been attained for a chap in Barrow-in-Furness who not only flew over a busy main road, the Jubilee Bridge over Walney Chanel but also then proceeded to fly over an MOD nuclear submarine facility before promptly crashing into the sea! Now to you and I this I should hope seems like a very obviously silly thing to do and the CAA rightly brought a prosecution on the abuse of using a remotely operated aircraft with a number of infractions of the Air Navigation Order.

So clearly, as with anything common sense should be applied if you plan to use a drone yourself, or hire a company (such as ourselves) to fly and film with one for you. At the moment the basic rules apply to everyone, licensed or not:

  • An unmanned aircraft must never be flown beyond the normal unaided ‘line of sight’ of the person operating it. This is generally measured as 500m horizontally or 400ft vertically.
  • An unmanned aircraft fitted with a camera must always be flown at least 50m distance away from a person, vehicle, building or structure.
  • An unmanned aircraft fitted with a camera must not be flown within 150m of a congested area or large group of people, such as a sporting event or concert.

The only thing separating qualified operators is that they will have applied for “permission” form the CAA and that is only granted when they have proved that they know the rules, how to fly safely and most importantly will have the appropriate valid insurance In the event that something does go wrong. Only then can someone perform commercial work with his or her drone. So always check you’re using a qualified pilot, or if you plan on flying yourself you receive the appropriate training.

We’ll have more information about the aerial services we offer shortly, but in the meantime have a look at some of the footage we got during our initial test.

Find Out More:

UK CCA first successful prosecution:
http://www.caa.co.uk/application.aspx?appid=7&mode=detail&nid=2348

Know the basic safety rules:
http://www.caa.co.uk/docs/1995/CAP%201202UAVsafetyrules.pdf