1) CAA Permission for Commercial Operations
In the UK, all drone pilots require CAA permission for any type of commercial operations or aerial work.
Hobbyists can fly their drones for recreational purposes, but they cannot provide images for any type of commercial or promotional purposes.
Be aware of hobbyist drone flyers offering any type of service for promotional reasons, as they are quite simple breaking the law and won’t be insured for any potential injuries or property damage.
All drone operators on the CAA list will have attended relevant courses and passed written / practical tests.
For a list of CAA approved drone operators, please check they are on the following CAA list.
Only drone operators on the CAA list have adequate drone insurance in place, don’t be fooled by any cowboys or hobbyists saying they have insurance.
They may have cover in place if they damage their drone, but they won’t have insurance for any commercial activity.
As well as full coverage of their equipment, drone operators on the CAA list will have £2million public liabilty insurance in place, with options to go up to £5million or £10million of public liabilty insurance.
3) Location, location, location
Location is an important consideration for aerial images, as some amount of space is required to fly safely and within the law.
Drone operators on the CAA list can fly within congested areas, as long as they follow the rules and have performed adequate safety checks.
The drone has to stay 50 metres away from people or infrastructre not under direct control.
So if you are looking for aerial shots of a property which is in close proximity to other properties, then it is unlikely that aerial images can be acquired.
If you have a bit of space around your property then it’s more than likely some images can be taken whilst flying safely and within the law.
I can normally check a site’s suitability beforehand by using Google Maps, but a full site survey and risk assesment will be done when on site.
Currently, drones can only operate safely in dry weather conditions, with not too much wind.
Even if we could get aerial images in the rain, it wouldn’t look good with rain on the lens and grey washed out colour.
Wind conditions have to be in a reasonable range, I don’t fly in any winds over 25 MPH, as it is not safe to do so.
I also check if there is any magnetic interference from solar storms, which can result in some impressive northern lights, but are not good for the sensitive magnetometers onboard the drones.
I am flexible when it comes to the weather, it’s just a waiting game to get a weather window to grab the shots.
Drones are coming down in price and coming down in size, you see them in lots of shops and lots of folk are also having fun flying them for fun.
Whilst some of the smaller drones are no more than toys, there are small drones that are capable of taking some nice shots.
I mostly use my DJI Inspire2 drone, which is a game changer drone with professional features.
It has a large camera sensor, which is stabilised and has interchangeable lenses, to capture the most detailed shots.
It is significantly larger are more stable than the Phantom drones in the typically Scottosh wind conditions.
Please have a look at my Aerial Image FAQ, if you have any questions about aerial photography.