A drone for Christmas?

Britons given drones for Christmas have been warned they could face prosecution for flying them dangerously.

The gadgets have been one of this year’s must-have gifts, prompting the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to highlight strict rules that recreational users must follow after they were involved in a number of incidents and near-misses.

Fears that unmanned aircraft could pose a danger were heightened earlier this month after investigators revealed a drone came within 20ft of a passenger plane as it was about to land at Heathrow Airport.

You can buy them readily in Canada, however as I found out when researching laws governing their usage for a potential work application you may be setting yourself up for a world of hurt liability wise.

The expected range of municipal by-laws apply, restricting hobby fliers to licensed RC fields if they are allowed at all, and more important, Transport Canada has set strict limitations on their business use. You have to file a flight plan and have it approved in advance for commercial applications. The potential consequences of a flight gone wrong can sink you legally, think personal injury. Don’t expect to see news crews making use of them in Canada any time soon.

The US has similar restrictions, no telling when or if we will ever see Amazon’s proposed “delivery by drone”.

  • FactsWillOut

    I’ve already seen them used for building inspections, and taking aerial footage of farms, for crop-insurance, etc.
    It’s a black-market, thanks to the all-controlling uber-state commies that rule us like kings.

    • I know they are being used, I do not think many understand the potential disaster they may face should anything go wrong.

      • FactsWillOut

        Myself, I can understand putting some kind of limits (like liability insurance, waivers signed by clients, etc) on their use, esp. in urban areas or near infrastructure like cell towers or power lines, but a simple waiver and contract should be good enough for rural use.

  • Dana Garcia

    The local 7-11 sells them here in northern California.

    Lawyer alert! the injuries are just beginning. A woman had her nose cut by a low-flying drone in NYC.


    • Yup, I saw a pic a friend sent of a woman who had been running a marathon. A news service was using a drone that went out of control and slammed into the runners.

  • Xavier

    Fortunately I live within 0.5 miles of a rural airport so if I see one it’s either illegal or the feds. Either way, my boom stick will take care of it.

    • I can imagine Amazon would lose a great many drones to unexplained collisions with buck shot;)

      • FactsWillOut

        Free stuff and skeet shootin’, a winning combination!

  • The Phantom

    The Powers That Be in Canada would very much like drones to be a Cops Only thing. Like guns. Being Canadian, instead of banning them outright they just make it a huge pain in the @ss to fly one legally. So technically you can still do it, just that practically you really can’t. Legally.

    So you build yourself a self guiding robot one, have it take off from a rooftop and collect the video feed anonymously. Costs you a drone if it screws up, but it doesn’t cost you your entire worldly possessions if Constable Plod decides to make an issue of it.

    • I understand the OPP had a drone pilot project. The government does not want you to have what it has.

      Aside from that insurance coverage would likely be impossible to secure.

      • The Phantom

        In fairness to the insurance business, its a heavy flying object with spinning blades on it, so not really safe to assume financial responsibility for flying it over a crowd.

        Flying it over an empty field is a different matter. Problem is, nobody is willing to make the distinction.

    • FactsWillOut

      It’s illegal to program flight paths, as opposed to use RC.

      • The Phantom

        Of course it is. As soon as somebody figured out how to do it, and the RC crowd started doing it, somebody at MOT wrote a regulation effectively banning it.

        Because they don’t want -you- doing it. Because you (meaning us) are an idiot. They want their trained-and-certified expert cop guys doing it.

        Is it any safer when the cops do it than when we do it? Not really. Do they do it better than Random Citizen Hobbyist? Not really. But they like to be in charge. Because, you know, people are stupid, they have to be controlled.

        On the bright side, if you don’t come forward to claim your illegal per-programmed quad-copter they don’t have a snowball’s chance of catching you.

        So, you know, plan accordingly and save it for when you really really really need to know what’s happening at map grid square XXYY, to the point where you’re happy to sacrifice a $1000 drone to find out.

  • Your best bet in Britain is just to assume that everything is illegal. Keep your head down, don’t do much of anything, and try not to make eye contact. If you’re lucky, you won’t get bothered too much.

    We’re not much better.

    • No we really aren’t in fact the Nanny state grows worse by the day.

    • FactsWillOut

      People had it better under Caligula.

    • The Phantom

      I’m sure there’s a law against keeping your head down and not making eye contact. Its racist or something, isn’t it?

  • Tom Forsythe

    But if you have enough drones, you can make your own laws!

    • FactsWillOut

      Especially with little 3cc thermite pellets and a rotary spreader!

      • Tom Forsythe

        You may have spent too much time thinking about this.

  • AlanUK

    Couple of uses where drones have been used in the UK, both involving geology.
    1) With full permission from the land owner a geological society dug extensive trenches in an open field. The drone was invaluable in recording what had been done. The “pilot” waited until everyone else had gone.
    2) Used with care a drone can get close up and personal to examine unstable cliff faces and quarries where the only alternative would have been climbing up or abseiling down.
    I would guess that drones could be used to do cheap aerial surveys of areas of archaeological interest. Again, open fields would be the best.
    Seems to me that drones can be used effectively, cheaply and safely but the last depends on that greatest of rarities, “common sense”.