Way back when (in September 2014) during the initial phases of our project we were aware that flying a drone might have some legal implications so we took some care to search through the specific legislation (from the CAA, mostly Air Navigation Orders) and find out what we needed to do to stay within the law. You can check out the post here.
I (Tom A) recently gained my Permission for Aerial Work, this is the qualification you need to undertake commercial drone work in the UK. So we wanted to document the steps someone would need to take to use our bat-drone commercially in the UK, should we create a working platform.
Please note that 'commercially' in this case also refers to research undertaken by universities. The following also only applies in the United Kingdom.
Civil Aviation Publication (CAP) 393 is the legislation that covers drones and it stipulates that:
"The person in charge of a small unmanned aircraft must not fly the aircraft for the purposes of aerial work except in accordance with a permission granted by the CAA"
'Aerial work' here means commercial work in the broad sense, including exchange of services or a crate of beer for example!
The 'permission' that is mentioned is granted by the CAA after an individual has undergone training and in this way is similar to a license.
To get this we must:
This is a fairly significant investment, totaling approximately £1500 but would be required before you could do any commercial activities or get insurance.
A 'Permission for Aerial Work' is not required if the activity is not commercial. For example if you were just flying a bat drone around for fun you would be allowed to do so as long as you kept within the law:
The CAA have actually released a number of simple steps called the 'Dronecode' which give you a handy reference for what you should and shouldn't be doing with your drone. You can check it out here:
If you did want to use a bat drone commercially and did not want to get the qualification yourself then the alternative is to hire someone else to do it for you.