UAV Tips- what is a congested area?

Have you been keeping up to date with our UAV Tips series? Our latest post covered the Drone Code, helping to demystify the guidelines set out by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in order to keep our skies a safe place to fly. Within this, you may be aware of the rules that prohibit you flying near a congested area at any distance closer than 150m. This is just one rule of many that dictate where a drone can be flown, alongside restrictions such as flying over 50m away from another person and keeping the drone within 500m of the pilot horizontally at all times.

What is a congested area?
Although it may be clear what a congested area is on general terms, we have had many people asking us to clarify exactly what the CAA classes as a ‘congested area’, in order to ensure that they can continue to fly safely, and legally. Let us explain…

In the Air Navigation Order, a congested area is referred to as ‘any area of a city, town or settlement which is substantially used for residential, industrial, commercial or recreational purposes.’ This could cover housing estates, retail parks, theme parks, shopping centres, city centres and even public parks.

What do I do if I need to operate in one?
If you have a particular mission or task that requires access into any of these places, don’t panic! It is possible to apply for permission from the CAA to operate in a congested area. Depending on your circumstances, permission may be obtained that covers you for just one flight, or for up to a period of 12 months.

In order to acquire such permission, it is important that you are able to demonstrate the safety measures you plan to put in place to ensure that you fly responsibly in this risky area in a way that put no person, property or fellow aircraft in danger. If applying for one-off access, preparing something such as a risk assessment should be enough. However, if you require regular access to a congested area then something as substantial as an updated operations manual may be necessary. Each prospective pilot may also need to undergo a thorough assessment process.

Every guideline put in place by the CAA is there to push the industry forward, enabling us to operate without presenting any public risk. It is imperative then that these rules are adhered to. If you think your next mission might involve flying into a congested area but you aren’t sure, or if you know you need access to one but don’t know how to apply for permission, ask a member of our friendly team! Give us a call at +44 (0)208 0450 508 or contact us online.

If you’re still to gain your drone licence, browse our courses online to start your aerial journey!