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  2. What training do you need for your drone?

What drone course do I need to do if I have a DJI Mavic Mini or a Mini 2 in the UK?

You need an Operator ID from the CAA and you need to read and understand the user manual

The DJI Mavic Mini and the Mini 2 are unique aircraft in the fact that their flying weight is under 250g.

Under the new regulations that came into effect on 31st December 2020, all Unmanned Aircraft with a flying weight of under 250g only require the user to get an Operator ID from the CAA and to affix it to the aircraft (this currently costs £9 and has to be renewed annually) and to read and understand the user manual.

You should also get a Flyer ID from the CAA which is free to get.

You can get a Flyer ID and an Operator ID from the CAA at the link below:

https://register-drones.caa.co.uk/individual

Here are the responsibilities (copied from the Drone Code) for you as the remote Pilot of a Mavic Mini or Mini 2.

You’re responsible for flying safely whenever you fly

Follow the Drone Code to make sure you never put people in danger.

Always be ready in case something should go wrong with your drone or model aircraft.

You could be fined for breaking the law when flying your drone or model aircraft. In the most serious cases, you could be sent to prison.

Always keep your drone or model aircraft in direct sight and make sure you have a full view of the surrounding airspace

You must be sure that you can spot any nearby hazards in the air or on the ground and avoid collisions.

You must be able to see your drone or model aircraft without using:

  • binoculars
  • a telephoto lens
  • electronic viewing equipment, such as a smart phone, tablet or video goggles

Normal glasses and contact lenses are fine.

Flying with the help of an observer

You can ask someone to be your observer when you fly.

They must stand next to you and you must be able to talk to each other at all times.

One of you must be able to keep your drone or model aircraft in direct sight and have a full view of the surrounding airspace at all times.

The observer does not need to have a flyer ID, but you must tell them what to look out for. Remember, you’re still responsible for keeping the flight safe.

Fly below 120m (400ft)

Flying below the legal height limit of 120m (400ft) will reduce the risk of coming across other aircraft, which normally fly higher than this.

Always look and listen out for other aircraft that may be flying below 120m (400ft), such as air ambulances and police helicopters.

Flying where there are hills, mountains or cliffs

Your drone or model aircraft must never be more than 120m (400ft) from the closest point of the earth’s surface.

If you fly where the ground falls or rises, such as over hills, mountains or cliffs, you may need to adjust your flight path so that your drone or model aircraft is never more than 120m (400ft) from the closest point of the earth’s surface.

Never fly more than 120 metres above the earth’s surface.

Drones with a flying weight below 250g

The rule on minimum distances to people is different when flying small drones and model aircraft that are below 250g.

If you’re flying a drone or model aircraft that’s lighter than 250g, you can fly closer to people than 50m and you can fly over them.

When you’re thinking about how close you can fly, remember, you must never put people in danger. Even small drones and model aircraft could injure people if you don’t fly them safely.

Never fly over people who are crowded together

A crowd is any group of people who cannot move away quickly because of the number of other people around them.

Never do this, no matter what size of drone or model aircraft you have.

Examples of places where people are often crowded together include:

  • shopping areas
  • sports events
  • religious gatherings
  • political gatherings
  • music festivals and concerts
  • marches and rallies
  • at a crowded beach or park
  • parties, carnivals and fêtes

Never fly where people have gathered in crowds or groups.

Flying in Residential, recreational, commercial and industrial areas

You can fly small drones and model aircraft that are lighter than 250g, in residential, recreational, commercial and industrial areas.

Remember, you must always fly safely.

Stay well away from airports, airfields and aircraft

Most airports and airfields have a flight restriction zone (FRZ).

Never fly in this zone unless you have permission from the airport. The zone is in place to avoid any collisions with aircraft at or near the airport.

The DroneSafe website (opens in new tab) gives details of airfield restrictions and more information on getting permission.

Some drone apps also give details of flight restriction zones.

Never fly in an airport’s flight restriction zone.

Follow any flying restrictions and check for hazards

Always check for restrictions and hazards before you fly.

Examples of restrictions and hazards

Restricted airspace

Flying may be restricted around some sites, such as prisons, military ranges, royal palaces, and government buildings.

Events

Flying may be temporarily banned in specific areas during some events, such as airshows or festivals. This is to keep everyone safe.

There may also be security reasons for banning flying, such as at political conferences.

Emergency incidents

Temporary restrictions may be established at very short notice due to emergency incidents, such as road traffic accidents, fires and floods.

If you’re near the scene of an accident or similar emergency, you must keep out of the way and not do anything that could hamper the emergency services.

Byelaws

Byelaws may restrict when and where you can fly from.

Look out for local signs for information and contact details where you can find out more. Byelaws are unlikely to be shown on apps or drone websites.

Tall structures

Check for any tall structures, such as cranes, masts and wires.

Do not fly if there are structures in the area that will mean it’s not safe or legal.

Animals and wildlife

Do not fly where you’ll disturb or endanger animals and wildlife.

Other aircraft

Always be ready to respond in the safest way possible if other aircraft appear where you’re flying.

Look and listen out for unusual or specialist flying activities, such as air ambulances, police helicopters, light aircraft, military aircraft, crop spraying, and electricity pylon surveying.

Useful places to check for restrictions and hazards

Signs

Check for signs that say you cannot fly drones or model aircraft.

Some sites may have restrictions that are not listed in apps and other services.

NOTAMs (Notices to Airmen)

NOTAMs are official notices that tell people about activities that may be a hazard to flying. For example, a balloon show.

Many drone apps include details of NOTAMs. You can also find NOTAMs at the NATS drone website (opens in new tab)

Apps and other resources with details of restrictions

Some flying restrictions are given in the following:

Make sure you understand exactly what information these resources will give you.

Make sure you know what your drone or model aircraft can and cannot do

Make sure you have read any instructions before you fly.

Key points to know are:

  • how far your drone or model aircraft can fly from you before it loses signal
  • how long your drone or model aircraft can fly before running low on power or fuel

If your drone or model aircraft has any of the following functions, you should know how to set and update them:

  • Maximum flying height.
  • A lost connection or ‘return-to-home’ function, which means your drone or model aircraft can fly back to you if there’s a problem.
  • Geo-awareness software to help you avoid flying in certain restricted areas. Do not alter or disable this software if your drone or model aircraft has it.

Make sure your drone or model aircraft is fit to fly

Check fuel and battery levels

Take special care to check that fuel and battery levels will last through your flight. This includes any extra fuel you might need in an emergency or for flying in difficult weather, such as windy conditions.

Remember to check the battery power in the controller too.

Check any built-in software is up to date

The built-in software (called firmware) controls important navigation and flying controls. Depending on the type of drone or model aircraft you have, this could include:

  • how your drone uses its power
  • how your drone knows its position
  • how your drone lands if there’s a problem
  • in some cases, the latest information on flight restriction zones and other airspace restrictions

Keeping this software up to date will also help to protect against cyber attacks.

Follow the instructions to update the built-in software (firmware). Always check that the software has updated correctly before going flying.

Do not fly if the weather could affect your flight

Some of the things to look out for:

  • strong winds could blow your drone or model aircraft off course or make it difficult to fly safely
  • wind on the ground is often very different to the wind at height
  • rain or other water, snow and cold weather could stop parts of your drone or model aircraft from working
  • fog could mean you lose sight of your drone or model aircraft
  • glare from the sun could mean you lose sight of your drone or model aircraft
  • cold or wet weather could affect your ability to control your drone or model aircraft safely
  • standing out in the sun could affect your ability to concentrate

Make sure your drone or model aircraft will work if the temperature is low

Follow the manufacturer’s guidance on the safe temperatures to fly at.

Some types of battery do not hold their charge as long in cold weather and this may reduce the amount of time you can fly.

Do not drink and fly

You must not fly when under the influence of alcohol. Alcohol will seriously affect your judgement and ability.

As a guide, you should apply the same limits as you would for driving a car.

Do not fly under the influence of drugs or medicine

Check with your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking medicines that may affect your ability to operate your drone or model aircraft safely. Do not fly if they advise that your ability to drive a car or operate machinery may be affected.

Do not fly if you’re tired or unwell

Your judgement and ability could be affected if you are tired or unwell.

Do not fly while you could be distracted by another activity

For example:

  • do not fly while driving, riding or operating a vehicle or bicycle
  • do not fly while messaging or making a phone call
  • do not fly more than one drone or model aircraft at a time

Take action quickly and safely if the situation in the air or on the ground changes

Always be ready to land your drone or model aircraft or reduce your flying height and wait until it is safe to fly again. For example, you may need to land if a group of people or animals turn up in the area where you’re flying.

Low flying aircraft

Reduce your flying height or land as soon as you hear or see a low flying aircraft that may be affected by your drone or model aircraft.

Land your drone or model aircraft, or hover at a low level well out of the way, and wait until it’s safe to continue with your flight. If it appears the aircraft is attempting to land, you should land your drone or model aircraft immediately.

Report any dangerous incidents, near misses or suspicious activity

If you’re involved in a dangerous incident or near miss when you’re flying your drone or model aircraft, you must report the incident to the Civil Aviation Authority (opens in new tab).

An incident or near miss includes anything that did or could:

  • put people in danger
  • cause damage to property, buildings, equipment or aircraft

The Civil Aviation Authority will use this information to monitor potential hazards and risks to help keep flying safe for everyone.

Suspicious activity and mis-use

If you see anybody using a drone or model aircraft in a suspicious or dangerous way, call your local police on 101. If it’s at an airport, call airport security.

Retrieving your drone or model aircraft after a forced landing

If you make a forced landing or crash on private property, you must get the property owner’s permission before retrieving your drone or model aircraft.

This is especially important at sites where security services are likely to respond if you enter without permission.

Make sure you have the appropriate insurance

The insurance you need depends on the size of your drone or model aircraft and what you use it for.

Insurance for drones and model aircraft below 20kg

If you fly a drone or model aircraft that weighs less than 20kg for fun, recreation, sport, or as a hobby, you can choose whether or not to have insurance.

If you fly for any other reason, you must have third party liability insurance. For example, you must have insurance if you:

  • get paid to take pictures or record video or carry out surveys
  • use your drone for work, such as on a farm, park or estate

Although insurance is optional if you only fly for fun, recreation, sport, or as a hobby, remember you’re responsible for your actions. You could be held personally liable for any injury or damage you cause, so you may want to consider getting third party liability insurance.

Respect other people and their privacy

If your drone or model aircraft is fitted with a camera or listening device, you must respect other people’s privacy whenever you use them.

If you use these devices where people can expect privacy, such as inside their home or garden, you’re likely to be breaking data protection laws.

It’s against the law to take photographs or record video or sound for criminal or terrorist purposes.

Any photos or recordings you take may be covered by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Make sure you know what your camera can do and the kind of images it can take

Knowing this will help to reduce the risk of taking photos or recording videos that invade privacy.

Make sure you know:

  • what quality you can record
  • how close your camera can zoom in
  • if you can start and stop recording when you are flying

Make sure you can be clearly seen when you’re out flying

This means people will know who’s responsible for your drone or model aircraft.

Let people know before you start recording or taking pictures

In some cases, this will be easy. For example, if you’re taking a photo of family and friends at a family barbeque.

In other cases, this will be less practical, so you must be careful to respect everyone’s right to privacy.

Remember, you must never fly over groups, crowds, or any people who are not with you.

Think before sharing photos and videos

Avoid sharing anything that could be unfair or harmful to anyone.

Think carefully about who could see your photos and videos – especially before posting them on social media. Apply the same common-sense approach that you would with images or video recorded on a smartphone or digital camera.

Keep photos and videos secure

Store images safely. Delete anything you don’t need.

If you record images for commercial use, you’ll need to meet further specific requirements as a data controller.