A drone ban will come into place in large parts of London later this week during US President Barack Obama’s visit to the capital.
The restriction spans London and Windsor, where Obama is having lunch with the Queen on Friday, and will be in place from Thursday 21 until Sunday 24. In London, drones will be out of action from Purley in the south to Haringey in the north.
Along with drones, balloons, kites, parachutes, and all aircraft that fly below 2,500 feet have been banned from flying above London and Windsor during the president’s visit, when he is expected to urge the UK to stay in the European Union.
“Any small balloon, any kite weighing not more than two kilograms, any small unmanned aircraft and any parachute including a parascending parachute” are included in the city-wide restrictions, said the Civil Aviation Authority.
Obama will meet with the Queen and David Cameron during his trip. The Authority describe the temporary restrictions as routine, and are similar to those put in place during large sports games and near airports.
The routine drone ban follows a collision between a drone and an aeroplane at Heathrow Airport earlier this week, an accident that has been attributed to a lack of regulation .
As long as your drone weighs less than 20 kg and you’re not using it for commercial reasons, there are currently no laws that prevent you from flying it.
The main rules to bear in mind are that you must avoid flying it within 150 metres of a congested area and 50 metres of a person, vessel, vehicle or structure not under the control of a pilot.
Is it legal to fly my drone?
The answer, in short, is “yes” – with some provisos.
The CAA admits that the rules and regulations around drone use are “evolving”, but this is the state of play at the moment: drones are classified as “unmanned aircraft”, and the CAA is keen to point out that they are most certainly a type of aircraft and “not toys”.
If your drone weighs over 20kg then you’re out of luck – it’s only legal to use it in certified “danger areas” such as Parc Aberporth aerodrome in West Wales.
Even those using a drone weighing less than 20kg for commercial use – receiving payment of any sort – are required to seek permission from the CAA.
To get permission you will have to show that you are “sufficiently competent”. This is less clear-cut than manned aircraft, which has a well-established licensing procedure.
If your drone is under 20kg and you’re not using it for commercial reasons, then you still have some rules to follow.
Anyone filming with a drone for their own purposes must avoid flying it within 150 metres of a congested area and 50 metres of a person, vessel, vehicle or structure not under the control of the pilot.
You will also need to fly the aircraft within sight. This means you can’t go above 400ft in altitude or further than 500 metres horizontally.
If you want to exceed that, you’ll again need to seek explicit permission from the CAA.