Drone owners are often working commercially and don’t understand the laws that they’re breaking!

Drone owners are often working for commercial gain or interest not understanding the laws that are leaving them paying substantial Civil Aviation Fines and often criminal prosecution.

Working for a construction, estate agency or building company for example and own a drone that you or the business use for aerial shots?

Would you be surprised to learn that whether or not you are charging for the footage, you are committing a criminal offence by flying a drone for any business without permission and qualification regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Illegal drone users also typically fly without insurance indemnity or liability meaning that if they crash their drone into your vehicle, property or worse a member of the public – there is nobody to pay for the damage.

Permissions for aerial work are granted to drone pilots once they have been assessed as responsible safe operators, passing examinations and providing comprehensive risk assessments and gaining local permits for their activities.

The rules have been established to provide a safe environment in which drones can be flown without coming into conflict with manned aircraft and without risk to other people or properties.

If you needed a new boiler installed in your house you wouldn’t use an illegal gas engineer, who isn’t Gas Safe qualified and licensed? Or, if you wanted to hire a commercial diver you wouldn’t use a dive contractor who isn’t HSE qualified or correctly permitted .

A recent rise in incidents caused by drone pilots working illegally without CAA permission or insurance is unacceptable and a blatant disregard for the UK’s aviation laws. The CAA regulates the UK’s drone laws for very good reason.

So why are illegal drone pilots flying for work in the UK and flouting the laws?

One possible reason for the complete disregard for the UK’s drone laws is because the drone owner thinks that they can fly under the radar and get away with it.

Drone movements are monitored and recorded by satellite GPS systems which record all movements of a drone from takeoff to landing. These records can be quickly sourced by the CAA and more recently, powers granted to the police to enforce penalties and prosecution the like.

London Drone Works has witnessed an increase in footage of illegal pilots breaking drone laws in the rule book such as working their drone without CAA permissions or insurance, endangering the lives of innocent people. Examples of this include flying over large crowds or too close to people/property or, worse, close to airports without special OSC permissions and associated risk assessments.

Another possible reason that these illegal drone operators are ignoring the rules and working their drones without CAA permission and insurance is that they simply do not understand what commercial gain means.

To set the record straight; commercial gain means ‘aerial work’. Valuable consideration is a legal term that makes you a commercial operator as opposed to an amateur.

Working commercially as a drone operator doesn’t just mean, for example, securing an aerial filming contract with a TV broadcaster or gaining a contract to undertake an aerial inspection of a roof.

Here are some examples of valuable consideration:

You film drone footage and monetise it on social media or otherwise

You film drone footage of an event or construction site and sell the images/footage to a company

You film drone footage and use it for your own company as you are employed by them and own a drone.

You film drone footage to help sell a friend’s house and they later buy you a drink to return the favour.

You’re a photographer who says ‘I’ve also got a drone, I’ll throw that in for free’

All of these examples are classed as valuable consideration. It means they are considered commercial aerial work and wouldn’t be there if they weren’t working.

To be clear, If footage is for use in advertisement or social media, it is commercial.

The UAS Drone industry is calling upon the CAA to get tougher on illegal drone pilots and implement a zero tolerance to flying for commercial gain without the necessary permissions and insurance.

Pilots with an Operational Authorisation recognize that it is now only a matter of time before an illegal drone operator flies irresponsibly and causes a major incident.

If you are looking to hire a drone, always ask to see a copy of your pilot’s CAA permissions. This is called a CAA Operational Authorisation document and look similar to the image in this post.

Permission for commercial operation and public liability insurance are a fundamental part of commercial drone operations. Most commercial drone operators have a minimum of £2 million specialist drone public liability insurance.

All London Drone Works’ operations have been insured and our pilots have CAA OA status. This means that you have the peace of mind when hiring us that your pilot is safe, legal and operating to the highest standard within the UK laws.

If you see irresponsible drone operation such as drone flying near an airport, flying too close to people/property or over a congested area there is a good chance that you are witnessing an illegal drone operator in action. Why? Because CAA approved pilots understand the dangers and fly to the highest standards of drone safety and operation.

If you do witness irresponsible drone operation you can report the incident to the police on telephone number 101.

For more information on booking a fully qualified and insured drone operator, visit our page at

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