Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Drones and police

Interesting story today from a friend...

He too has a new Phantom 4, and was practicing flying in the fields that back on to his house a few weeks ago before he went on holiday.

He was not videoing, and whilst it has a camera he was only using to control and monitor the aircraft, so the CAP722 3.7 exception means it is not a surveillance aircraft at that point. Well, we think so anyway. He was being careful, not flying over people or houses. Indeed, much of the field is not even within 150m of a congested area so surveillance aircraft would be allowed anyway.

He just got back from holiday to find a card from the police asking to talk to him. He was worried it was about the drone, and indeed, after about 4 hours of chasing them, the right person finally managed to talk to him and explain that it was.

Well, sort of.

Someone had complained to the police that a drone nearly flew in to their conservatory. It was not even my friend's drone, but someone else's in the road. They found the kid with the drone and he said my friend had one too, so they went to speak to him as well (and he was on holiday).

They told him (and the kid) to just be considerate. They explained that they get a lot of complaints about drones and there is nothing they can do about it. They even confirmed that if the kid had flown in to the conservatory and broken it, that would be a simple civil matter (no intention of causing damage) and would not even involve the police.

This is good in some ways, not so good in others, and raises some interesting questions...

1. Why did they not simply tell the complainer that "there is nothing they can do about it" rather than wasting time tracking down two other people and talking to them? I am sure they would have managed to say that had it been a ballon or a paper plane.

2. Why did they not actually know that some of the drone flying is illegal, e.g. surveillance over or within 150m of a congested area without CAA approval? They told my friend he was fine to fly his drone if he is considerate. It is even in an ATZ, though for sub 7kg drones that is not a factor.

3. Why are people so hyped up over drones - why not talk to each other if something is causing annoyance in some way instead of wasting police time?

Anyway, good news that they were not being arses about it - that is perhaps the important message here. My friend has now been briefed on all of the relevant rules to make sure he is flying legally anyway. Rumour is that next year the rules should be simplified, and for low altitudes be much more relaxed - I do hope so.

16 comments:

  1. Where can you find the rules for drone flying?

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    1. Lots of web sites, but the actual law on it is The Air Navigation Order 2016 (well, will be tomorrow). http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2016/765/contents/made and the key sections are 94 and 95. Also look at CAP722 which is the CAA guidelines. https://publicapps.caa.co.uk/docs/33/CAP%20722%20Sixth%20Edition%20March%202015.pdf

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    2. Thanks. Seems to suck all the joy out of having a play about with a drone, doesn't it?

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    3. Yes, but hopefully better next year...

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  2. The problem is if a drone nearly slams into my windows and then flies off, how do I find out who is flying the damned thing? The reason people get so worked up about them is they are noisy and intrude on what little privacy we have left when we are in our gardens.

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    1. Well, why would you have any right to find who owns it if it did no damage? There are some issues with deliberately causing nuisance but that applies to all sorts of things and not just drones.

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    2. I don't want any drones flying over my house or my garden. If any do I want to know who is operating them so I can report it to the police. Why would anyone think they have the right to fly a drone over my property?

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    3. Largely because they do! Just as planes can fly over it and helicopters. Yes, those have registrations and can be traced. If a helicopter flies over your house do you report that to the police?

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    4. Yes, I do, where the helicopter is flying low enough to disturb me with the noise generated.

      Living near a hospital, it's not infrequent - usually the helicopter is the Air Ambulance or NPAS (easily checked, easily ruled out by the civilian answering the phones); however, sometimes it's pleasure pilots "buzzing" the neighbourhoods around the hospital because they think it's "fun" - they don't think it's nearly as fun when they land to find the police waiting to have Words.

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    5. That'll be a separate matter of causing nuisance, or flying too low, I expect. But basically aircraft can fly over people's houses in general.

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    6. So would you complain about your next door neighbour cutting his grass? That's noisy. Or playing with a remote control car in their back garden? That's noisy.

      If your neighbour owns a drone, and flies it in their garden, you will hear it just as well as if it is the same height over your garden. You don't own the sky up to infinity above your house.

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    7. Mind you, if someone flew a drone over my garden, I'd want to know who it belonged to as well - so that I could find them and look at it, perhaps if I'm nice enough they'd let me fly it ;)

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    8. If my neighbour is doing something that disturbs me, I'll go and chat to them about it - the reason helicopters go to the police instead is that I can't go and have a civil conversation about WTF you're doing flying that noisily at 4am with a helicopter or drone pilot, because I can't find them easily.

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    9. You honestly expect the police to meet a pilot on landing because you've moaned about noise?

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    10. That's a real example, from a real incident, where the noise complaint led to them checking what the helicopter was doing - they were able to confirm that the pilot was flying below 500 ft, and had no justification for doing so (just wanted to do it because he'd seen the Air Ambulance fly that low near the hospital).

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  3. The kid grassed, take him down.

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