It seems there is a growing trend among drone owners these days. And no, this is not a feel-good moment or a lighthearted newscast. Plenty of users all over the world receive fines (or in some severe cases detained) over flying drones illegally.
While some users get in trouble with their drones purely out of not knowing the local area’s rules (most people involved here are tourists), some use drones for nefarious deeds like peeping on neighbors. Some extreme cases involve people flying their drones near airports, or even crashing into one – causing massive damage and even human injury.
Therefore, with the rise of drone ownership – and drone incidents globally, I think it is time to review etiquette regarding these flying machines. While countries may differ in their specific drone regulations, some still hold true universally. For an aspiring traveler who wants to bring their drones with them, knowing the basic drone regulations can save you a ton of trouble from legal action.
The most dangerous violation of drone use is going past the height restrictions. For the most part, drones can fly thousands of feet up in the air – but should they? The restriction for most countries is 400 feet, while some go lower than that. The rule is not for the drone or its user’s safety, but for the people flying aboard aircrafts. Usually, airplanes descending (and lacking fuel for more flight) need a straight path towards an airport bay. Drones can impede their flight, or worse, can actually crash into one.
Airport Perimeter Ban
For obvious reasons, drones cannot fly 1 kilometer from the nearest airport. While this sounds simple, drones still find their way into airports at an alarmingly more common rate. A drone spotted at an airport’s vicinity can cause a lot of problems both for the people onboard the plane as well as the airport below. Incoming flights require diverting to other airports to prevent any potential collisions and crashes. Outgoing flights need to be postponed until the threat is dealt with.
Private Areas and Historical Sites
Tourist destinations and popular places vary on their approach on drones. Some do not have a problem with you flying it around to take photographs. Others on the other hand may prohibit it. Privacy concerns are always an issue when you have a camera. A flying camera will increase the concern even further.
Combine that with recording in more suburban areas with lots of homes, and you may just get yourself the label of Peeping Tom.
Asking local authorities (of the city, or the area) can shed some light into it. Before you do anything, always ask to avoid any problems later. Remember – it is never a crime to ask for something to clarify.
Crowded Areas or Indoor Events
Concerts and parades may seem like a great place to setup a drone and start taking photographs. However, flying one endangers the lives of people below. With crowds come confined spaces, smaller breathing rooms, and a ton of unpredictability. If the drone comes crashing down, many people can get hurt below. A crashing drone may still have some spinning rotors, and some are even prone to catching on fire upon landing.
For emergencies like forest fires, tsunami attacks, or even volcanic activities it may seem like a good photo opportunity to the drone owner. Footage from above can witness a ton of devastation and carnage that may look great for a shot. These ideas however are incredibly selfish, as responders to a situation may find your drone troublesome.
With the rise of drone use among civilians, it is no surprise that drones also are becoming more popular with emergency responders. Firefighters, police departments, and even search and rescue started using drones as scouts in the sky. These create a very efficient system, with the drone keeping watch and sending information their way.
In emergency situations, responders need open air for their drones to navigate through. They also need the skies for helicopter and plane access if events are severe enough. With a third party drone, this would be impossible, as it would be hard to predict its movement. Fears of crashing can prevent any progress with the responders’ objectives. This also means having to divert incoming air support, which can impede rescue operations.