Is my location suitable for drone flying?
If you’re interested in having some drone footage of your location, then there’s a few things to take note of before committing. At Take One, we’ll have a look at your location for you and determine if a flight is possible, but here’s a few things you can make yourself aware of beforehand:
Surrounding every airport and aerodrome in the UK is an area of airspace known as an FRZ, or ‘Flight Restriction Zone’. This is a relatively large cylinder-shaped area of airspace which extends either 2 or 2.5 nautical miles in radius (3.7km or 4.63km respectively) and 2km high, with 5x1km extensions on the end of each runway.
Flying within an FRZ is illegal without prior permission from the airport in question, as unmanned drones pose a serious risk to low flying aircraft which may be taking off or landing. Some airports will still allow drone flights within their FRZ provided they have been contacted first with a detailed flight plan and risk assessment, and most will also require you to inform the control tower when you have begun and ended your flight so they can make sure other aircraft are aware of your presence, but generally speaking flying within these areas is not possible.
Surrounding some airports is an additional area of airspace known as a CTR or air-traffic Control Zone. These vary in size and shape, and the biggest one in the UK surrounds London Heathrow airport along with several others, and covers most of London itself. It is not illegal to fly an unmanned drone within a CTR, however they do tend to be areas where there is an increased likelihood of low flying aircraft and it is considered good practise to inform a nearby aerodrome if you are operating close by.
Examples: London Heathrow, London Gatwick, White Waltham, RAF Benson.
There are certain other locations in the UK where it is illegal to fly. These vary in size and shape quite significantly and tend to surround areas where security is a concern such as military bases, prisons or other culturally sensitive sites. It is sometimes possible to get permission to fly within restricted airspace, but like with an FRZ they require detailed planning and risk assessments and sometimes even background checks to take place.
Similar to Restricted airspace are Danger Areas where flying is both illegal and poses a significant risk to life or equipment. These are usually related to military installations and flying here is strictly prohibited unless given special permission by the authority responsible for that location.
Examples: Windsor Castle, City of London, Hyde Park, Belmarsh Prison, Larkhill Artillery Range
Areas of Increased Risk
These locations are typically not illegal to fly over, however they may raise security or safety concerns if the people responsible for that site are not made aware of the flight. These tend to surround specific locations such as schools, power plants or hospitals but may also include parks and nature reserves, glider flying sites and railway lines.
While it’s not illegal to fly near these sites, it is still a good idea to contact the responsible authority beforehand to let them know of your intentions. They may request a risk assessment be completed, and it may be advisable to inform the local police of the flight as well so that they are prepared if any concerned locals call them to complain!
Examples: Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Network Rail lines, Thame Park Hang Glider Site, Swanscombe Peninsula Nature Reserve
With all that said, it may seem like there’s a huge number of places in UK airspace where it’s simply impossible to fly, but the truth is that the vast majority of UK airspace is perfect accessible, especially for smaller drones used for corporate video production. Using common sense and having robust risk assessment and emergency procedures is essential to ensure a safe, smooth and responsibly conducted flight which results in great footage for your videos with minimal disruption for other airspace users and people on the ground.
If you’re interested in having some aerial footage for your production, then contact us at Take One and we’ll gladly work all this out for you and advise you on the best course of action. Give us a call to check out your ideas and practicalities, we love to talk: 01494 898919