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The Drone Code

1st Aug 2018

At Knew Productions we are often asked about aerial filming - and you can see our current aerial showreel here. However drone footage is becoming increasingly common place. No longer is it purely the domain of TV nature programs and high end video productions. More and more we are seeing hobbyists and amateur camera operators keenly flying their drones trying to capture those allusive pictures previously only seen by birds and low flying aircraft! And why not? The footage can be fascinating, seeing familiar places from a whole new angle, plus additional uses in agriculture, traffic monitoring, power line and roof inspection and the development of drone product deliveries means that many people are inspired to pop to their local electrical store and buy one!

This is all well and good if they are used with care, consideration and all importantly - within the confines of the law! What many people may not realise is, there are very specific laws and guidelines as to how drones can be used. These laws are going to be further tightened as of the 30th of July 2018. So, as a video production company who takes these things very seriously, we thought it would be useful to provide a summary of the main points.

At Knew Productions, we sometimes have occasion to use drone footage - although we are keen not to be swept along by fashion and throw it in regardless of whether it is really needed or not! For some productions, a high, wide establishing shot is perfect, or internally, looking down over a large factory floor for example can really add to the video as a whole. In these cases we either use our own DGI Spark kit or sometimes bring in specialist drone teams. When used for a specific purpose, and when edited into a more comprehensive video production, the results are amazing! They are great fun to use and the footage is lovely to edit. The shots that are obtained can really add impact to a video, helping to give information and to ‘set the scene’.

Unfortunately drones have got a bit of a bad name recently and there have been some well reported incidents when they have been used incorrectly. The new government guidelines - and laws, are coming into effect at the end of this month - and they apply to everyone who operates a drone - professional or amateur! The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) have created a webpage explaining the new Dronecode. The main points are:


  • Always keep your drone in sight.

This means you can see and avoid other things while flying.


  • Stay below 400ft (120m).

This reduces the likelihood of a conflict with manned aircraft.


  • Always follow your drone manufacturers instructions.

Keep your drone and the people around you safe.


  • Keep the right distance from people and property.

People and property - 150ft (50 metres) crowds and built up areas 500ft (150 metres).


  • You are responsible for each flight.

Legal responsibility lies with you. Failure to fly responsibly could result in criminal prosecution.


  • Stay well away from aircraft, airports and airfields.

If your drone endangers the safety of an aircraft, it is a criminal offence and you could go to prison for 5 years!



Next you need to consider where you are flying your drone and what you are filming. When flying on a private estate or somebody’s property, you must get written permission. In public places like parks and commons there is likely to be a policy that you should adhere to - if in doubt, check with the wardens. You must get permission from people if you plan to film them and stay the correct distance away, as stated in the Dronecode.


You must familiarise yourself with any no-fly zones. These include airports, power stations, military bases and prisons. An excellent app to use is NATS Drone Assist, created by the National Air Traffic Service, it shows where the no-fly zones are and helps you fly your drone safely. Ultimately, the drone is your responsibility and should any nuisance or damage occur, you will be held responsible and could face prosecution. There are very few safety measures should a drone fail or collide with something so it is essential to be insured. Either with full, specific insurance, or for hobbyists, ensure that your home insurance gives you adequate cover.

There are plenty of CAA accredited training courses available for those of us who use drones for ‘commercial purposes’ and indeed, as of next year anyone owning a drone weighing over 250g must register it with the CAA and take an online safety test. Remember ‘commercial purposes’ extends to things like monetising your YouTube channel or personal blog, you can find out more about training on the CAA website.

If you are considering purchasing a drone then make sure you go to a DroneSafe retailer. This is something that the Civil Aviation Authority strongly encourage so that consumers are properly educated on how to use their drone safely. Registered retailers will provide a copy of the DroneCode with any drone over 250g, they will display the Code in store, they will provide customers with advice and links to on-line information, plus each store will have a special knowledgable person on its staff who can answer queries on the DroneCode, advise customers and train colleagues.

So, there we have it - there’s lots of info available to help everyone fly their drones safely and correctly, so as long as you do that - get out there and have some fun!! If you are are considering using drone footage as part of a video production for your business or website, then we hope you will consider using Knew Productions so you can rest assured it will be a professional HD video production, beautifully edited and safely and legally made! For more information, don’t hesitate to get in touch.