Flying a drone has got to be one of the most liberating activities you can do. When the drone is in the air and the controller is in your hand, the sky’s the only limit. Well, is it? Let’s find out.
Even when there is practically no obstruction stopping your drone from going upwards, there are two concerns that should tell you exactly when to stop. One is the safety of your drone and the other is the law.
Now, which pilot wouldn’t want their drone to go as high as it can? If you are also tempted to do the same, go through this article and find out how far you can take your drone without a hitch.
The Built-in Restriction
The majority number of drones have built-in safety features that prevent them from flying higher than a specific altitude.
For example, DJI Mini 2 is a powerful drone that can reach a maximum altitude of 4,000 metres. Another great drone from this brand, DJI Mavic Air 2, comes with the capability of flying up to 5000 meters above the sea-level. Similarly, the maximum ceiling of DJI Air 2s is also 5000 meters.
Even though these drones feature such potentials, the highest drone flight ever recorded was at 11,000 feet or about 3352 meters. A DJI Phantom 2 set the record; and to your surprise, it was illegal.
All these facts lead you to one lesson- just because your drone can reach a certain height, doesn’t mean you should let it! Hence comes the importance of knowing the laws of flying drones.
How high can a drone fly?
The maximum altitude that your drone can reach depends on the laws of your region. According to Popular Mechanics, the highest height in Europe is restricted at 500 feet by legislation. The rules are stricter in the US, with an altitude limit of 400 feet.
Here, the altitude does not refer to the height from the sea-levels; rather it defines the height from the drone’s take-off ground. It goes without saying that taking your drone higher than the altitude restrictions will violate the laws.
Furthermore, the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) only allows you to fly your drone as long as it is within your visual range. The term is also known as VLOS, which is the abbreviation for Visual Line of Sight. Crossing this limit while flying a drone in the US is considered illegal.
Keeping the rules in mind, you can still exceed the limits set by your regional authorities. For that, you will need an official permit or waiver from the ones in-charge.
Also Read: How Far Can a Drone Fly?
High Altitude Drones Law Regulations
In certain regions, there are no defined restrictions on how high your drone can fly. Other than that, you must know the drone flying regulations of the country you are operating in. I have previously mentioned the laws set by the US authorities. Below, I have mentioned the regulations of some more countries where drones are much used.
- United Kingdom: The Civil Aviation Authority of UK has set the rule that the highest altitude of flying consumer drones is 400 feet. Here, consumer drones refer to the ones weighing under 25kg. You will need a special permit to fly a drone weighing more than that.
- Australia: Drone laws of Australia are similar to the ones of US and UK, only a bit stricter. There, you can only fly your drone during the day and you must keep it within your visual range.
Also, your drone cannot exceed the height of 400 feet in comparison to its take-off ground and it should stay at least 30 meters away from other people.
- Singapore: In Singapore, the weight of your drone must be less than 15 pounds and it must not be flown above 200 feet. You will need an official permit to exceed any of these limits.
Other than these, you are only allowed to fly your drone during the daylight and the drone must keep a distance of 5 meters from the airports.
- Canada: You must fly your drone at a height of less than 400 feet and you should also not fly it near emergency response or special event venues.
When to Cross the Altitude Restriction
Usually, the regional altitude restrictions are made keeping both airspace safety and the necessities of drone pilots in mind. So it is very unlikely for hobbyists to feel the need of exceeding the limits.
However, professional drone pilots may often require to cross the altitude limit. Imagine you are an aerial photographer or videographer, and your client has given you the task of taking aerial shots of a bridge or a vast landscape. Similar cases occur in the work of film makers too.
In such scenarios, the altitude restrictions are actually quite flexible. For example, the FAA grants the licensed pilots an advantage of going above the 400 feet restriction. They just have to apply for the waiver showing how crossing the limit is necessary for their service.
For recreational pilots, on the other hand, there are no exceptions other than abiding by the altitude restriction.
Tips for Flying at High Altitude
The higher the drone flies, the more prone it is to accidents. Now, which pilot would want their drone to crash? For a safe and exciting flight, keep the below-mentioned tips in mind.
- As low as possible: It goes without saying that you must obey the altitude restrictions set by your regional authorities. To stay extra cautious, fly your drone to the minimum height that is required to get your work done.
- Keep it away from restricted areas: Keep a considerable amount of distance from airports and military camps or other restricted areas, such as disaster sites.
- Monitor the battery level: According to a research by Drone DJ, a drone’s battery loses almost 10% of its power per 6000 feet in altitude owing to cold weather. So, if your drone has taken off from the peak of a mountain or a point way higher than the sea-levels, you should keep the battery level under observation.
- Maintain distance from crowded areas: Do not fly your drone directly above places where a crowd might be present, such as a local market, a stadium hosting a sporting event, or a concert.
Also Read: Drone Safety Tips and Best Practices
The results brought by any technology depend on how we use it, and drones are just the same. Proper usage of drones can bring wonderful outcomes and save your time, energy, and costs. On the other hand, a crash might cause misery.
In order to have a smooth and trouble-free flight, you must know and practice the laws of flying drones. This way you can take your drone usage to the next level and also stay away from causing any legal offense.
So; acknowledge, practice and keep flying!