‘Drone users need to know the law’, warns Irish Aviation Authority

Drone use is growing at a “rapid” rate in Ireland and hobbyists need to inform themselves of the law, warns the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA).

There are now 8,000 drones (small, unmanned aircraft) registered here. Many people fly them in order to take photos and videos.

The IAA has launched an awareness campaign to inform users of their responsibilities.

“Drone use is continuing to grow at a rapid rate in Ireland.

“We want to highlight to all drone users that they must abide by the law and operate their drones in a safe and responsible manner,” said Ralph James, the IAA’s director of safety regulation.

So far, in Ireland, drones have generated 94 complaints with the gardaí, and there has been one successful prosecution, under the Small Unmanned Aircraft (Drones) and Rockets Order, which came into force at the end of 2015.

The new order requires all drones that weigh over 1kg to be registered with the Irish Aviation Authority.

Drones that weigh less than 1kg are limited to operating at a height of 50 feet, unless registered.

As part of the IAA’s new campaign, they have published a short YouTube video, explaining safety measures for drone users.

It is “neither safe nor legal,” says the IAA, to fly drones near airports, within restricted areas around airfields and aerodromes, or in military-controlled airspace.

They cannot be flown more than 120 metres above ground level; drones can also not be flown farther than 300 metres from the controller, or outside of the user’s line of sight.

Drones cannot be flown over an assembly of more than 12 people, at events such as concerts, parades, and sporting activities.

Mr James said that it is the drone user’s responsibility to inform themselves of the law, in the event that they breach it.

“Ultimately, drone users must understand that they are legally responsible for the safe conduct of each drone flight, so the onus is on the drone user to inform themselves of the rules and regulations surrounding drone use, before they take to the skies,” said Mr James.

Separate to the 2015 legislation around registration and safety, users need to be aware of privacy and trespass laws, when flying drones.

The office of the Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) advises that drones fitted with different technologies for data collection, including cameras, thermal-imaging, GPS, altimeter, motion, radio frequency equipment, and other sensors, cannot be used for recording faces or for recording other personal information.

“It is possible that use of such aircraft may cause privacy concerns among the public, as a result of equipment that might be added to the drones.

“This may include sensors of various types, including smart cameras, specific sensors, detection equipment and radio-frequency equipment,” said the DPC.

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