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Drones Laws: Drone No Fly Zones UK

The Civil Aviation Authority issues legal guidance on flying an unmanned aerial vehicle. This guide explains where you may - and may not - fly drones around the skies of the United Kingdom.

WHAT IS A UAV? Most people call them drones. CAA drone regulations refer to them as 'remotely piloted aircraft systems' (RPAS).

ICAO is the International Civil Aviation Organization. They describe a drone as an aircraft without a human pilot aboard.

Either way, you can buy unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) in an array of different shapes and sizes.

Most drone operators pilot small handheld models. But, in fact some manufacturers produce them in sizes akin to a large passenger plane.

Flying a UAV drone around the countryside might seem like harmless fun to a remote pilot playing with a new toy. But, all RPAS operators have a legal responsibility to follow the strict drone laws in Great Britain.

UK drone laws state you must always fly drones in a safe manner. That refers to other aircraft in the air as well as people and property on the ground.

UK UAV Laws: CAA No Fly Zone

Drones Laws: Drone No Fly Zones UKThe CAA govern the regulations for flying drones around many areas of the United Kingdom. They place particular stringency on any UAV drone weighing more than 20 kilograms.

Operators need a special licence for flying drones of this caliber. Even so, the permit restrictions only allow flights in a segregated airspace.

Flying an unmanned aerial vehicle around any busy airport flight path could land you in deep water.

You need to know how and where you can use them legally to avoid possible prosecution from aviation authorities.

Small recreation UAVs weigh less than a kilo. But, if you plan to pilot a UAV for commercial use, you still need a license attesting to the competence of the operator.

An example would be a surveyor wanting to fly a remotely controlled craft for surveillance work. Surveyors often use drone flights for taking aerial photographs.

Consider referring to the rules and regulations of the air navigation order for extra detailed information. Restricted airspace within the United Kingdom is available for interpretation at

Flying Drones UK Rules

Drones Must Not Be Flown:

Note: From November 2019 owners of drones weighing 250g or more will need to register with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Drone pilots will also need to take an online safety test.

UK Drone No Fly Zones for Operators

An unpiloted drone 'no fly zone' is similar to that of a normal manned airplane. It simply refers to the areas or pockets of airspace that aircraft (manned or unmanned) cannot legally fly into. As a rule, UK no fly zones for all drones fall into four main categories:

  1. Restricted Areas: A No Fly Zone that should never be flown over or into (e.g. prison or nuclear power station).
  2. Controlled Airspace: A No Fly Zone that should never be flown into without permission (e.g. airports, aerodromes).
  3. Prohibited Areas: UK No Fly Zones that are highly recommended not to fly into for your own and everyone's safety. Examples include HIRTA Aviation 'High Intensity Radio Transmission Areas' which may cause interference with aircraft equipment.
  4. Danger Areas: UK regions which are set aside for military weapons or pilot training. This includes the testing of military technology (GPS jamming exercises).

Restricted zones also extend up skyward hundreds or thousands of feet from the land surface. In fact, due to the UK's flying rules and regulations, some of the banned zones may not even start at the surface. The cloud pockets of controlled airspace range from a few of hundred meters to several hundreds of miles horizontally.

Drone Laws and UAV Regulations UK: CAA Drone No Fly Zones in the United Kingdom

Take Note iconData protection laws protect and guard the rights of the public to reasonable privacy. Thus, you should comply with this legislation in the United Kingdom. Done inadvertently or not, using a surveillance camera mounted on a drone to collect, store, and publish images of identifiable individuals is subject to the Data Protection Act.