Latest news about drones

09 May 2018

The use of drones in the agricultural sector worldwide has soared in recent years, but as we see an explosion in their use, we must we be mindful of the legal pitfalls associated with their deployment.

These high-tech pieces of equipment have the potential to transform farming and agriculture, with a range of uses including photography, crop surveillance and livestock mapping. Data collection is also of great value – helping to maximise crop production.

There is also a huge benefit for using the machines for pesticide-spraying – with an ability to operate them remotely while covering large amounts of land in a short time scale.

But what are the latest legal requirements for their use?

The Government has taken steps to ensure that strict rules and regulations apply, particularly with regard to drones that weigh more than 20kg. Unless an unlikely exemption applies, operators must obtain a Certificate of Airworthiness and register the machine on the UK Register of Civil Aircraft. They must also get flight permission from the CAA, along with an approved pilot qualification.

While the above only applies to the larger drones, there is also a legal requirement for those who operate smaller machines – which are classed as Small Unmanned Aircraft, for domestic use. Operators must not allow the drone to go out of sight and must not fly in restricted airspace or at a height of more than 400ft.

Farmers must also remember to be aware of the risk of breaching privacy and confidentially regulations – as well as possible criminal charges if any drone they operate puts other aircraft at risk.

Drones can certainly offer many benefits for the agricultural sector, but before leaping onto the high-tech wagon, it is important that you work with a legal expert to ensure full compliance and awareness.

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