The Use of Drones – What’s the Law?
The basic rule is that the person controlling it is responsible for identifying safety hazards and risks. If you cause an accident by your operation of the drone – either directly (eg by smashing it through a window) or indirectly (eg the noise of the drone causes a horse to spook, it rears, the rider falls off and breaks a leg), you may be held liable.
There are certain rules and legislation in Ireland governing the use of drones.
The legislation governing drones and their use is primarily regulated by the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA), and the main points include:
- All drones over 1kg must be registered with IAA. This includes the weight of the battery and all attached equipment.
- Certain limitations apply that restrict the legal operation of a drone:
- Drones cannot be flown further than 300m away from the person operating the drone.
- Drones can’t be flown higher than 122m above ground level or within 5km of an aerodrome or airport.
- You can’t fly a drone over urban built up areas or a crowd.
- You can’t fly a drone within 120m of another house unless permission has been granted from the owner.
- Do not use if it will be a hazard to another aircraft in flight.
If you wish to fly your drone outside the limits prescribed you must first attend a drone safety training course to obtain a special license on top of your registration.
Be aware also that you may unwittingly infringe on data protection requirements depending on the nature of the use. Improper drone use may infringe on the privacy or breach the confidentiality of others.
Machines equipped with technologies such as cameras, thermal imaging, GPS, altimeter, motion, radio frequency equipment and other sensors should only collect information that is necessary for achieving the lawful purpose being pursued by the person controlling them.
For example, a camera on a drone which serves to take aerial photographs of landscapes should not be used for recording faces or other personal information.
If you are considering operating a drone, you should contact your insurer or broker to ensure you have adequate third party liability cover in place. Your home insurance policy may not provide you with cover, especially if you are not on your own property at the time of an accident.
If you are considering commissioning drone footage on behalf of your group, take advice from your insurance company on what level of insurance cover the drone operator must have, before engaging them. Otherwise, in the event of an accident, you might find that your group is deemed to not have taken enough care in overseeing the commissioning of the footage, and you may find yourselves held liable for the actions of the drone operator..