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    Q923: What are drones and are they legal?

    Drones or 'small unmanned aircraft' are essentially flying robots. The aircraft can be remotely controlled or can fly autonomously using inbuilt software controlled flight plans. Designed for designated purposes by the military, they are becoming increasingly popular among members of the public.

    If you are considering using a drone for recreational purposes, you should be aware of the restrictions below, which will apply to any flight where permission from the CAA (see Q543) has not been obtained:

    • You must not fly a 'small unmanned aircraft' more than 400 feet above the surface.
    • If you are using a 'small unmanned surveillance aircraft' (i.e. a drone with a camera fitted to it), you must not fly it:
      • over or within 150 metres of a congested area (an area substantially used for residential, industrial, commercial or recreational purposes).
      • over or within 150 metres of an organised open-air assembly of more than 1,000 persons.
      • within 50 metres of any vessel, vehicle or structure that is not under your control.
      • within 50 metres of any person.

    Use your common sense and fly safely - making sure you can see the drone at all times. If you are recording people, make sure you inform them before you start and be aware of your surroundings.

    Misuse of a drone can lead to a criminal offence being committed. For any further help on how to use a drone safely and legally, please see the websites in the related links section.

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