Drones are an amazing tool for both commercial and recreational users to get unique bird’s eye views of the world around us. Unfortunately when it comes to some users common sense in their usage does not always seem to apply. There needs to be a level of respect and safety shown, over and above the legal aspects of drone use. Just because you can fly doesn’t mean you should.
To that end here are some general guidelines & basic codes of conduct that should be considered.
- Firstly all operators, be they commercial or recreational, must follow the rules and regulations set out by the authority in your country (Transport Canada regulations & guidelines), which lay out when, where, and how a drone can be used. These typically includes things like not flying over people, keeping the aircraft within line of sight, and making sure you are properly trained on the UAV.
- Know the airspace you are planning to fly in and make sure you know where all the airports and helipads are, and give way to manned aircraft. This is the law and you don’t want to be the person that causes the first major accident between a drone and an aircraft. If you are unsure then don’t fly. Be respectful of the airspace you are in and share the sky.
- Be respectful of other’s privacy and don’t become a spy. Don’t follow people or fly over houses/private property without permission. Make sure you are visible when flying so if someone has a concern they know who is in control.
While existing privacy laws lay out what you can and can’t record already, respect should be given even when people are in a public setting. Privacy laws for a drone are no different than for traditional photography.
- Get permission before you fly. Many parks and public areas may have restrictions and bylaws controlling when and where you can fly.
- Don’t become a nuisance or distraction. People aren’t usually at an event/location to see drones fly, so keep your distance and don’t become a distraction.
- Keep your distance from wildlife. These systems can stress and even injure animals if flown too close. Birds and other animals may see the drone as a threat and try to attack it which can lead to injury.
- Stay clear of emergency situations. First responders need to react quickly, getting in the way to get a photo of an accident could lead to delays that impact life and property.
- If weather conditions are poor the drone should not be flown regardless of how important the potential footage may be. The operator should be well aware of a craft’s operational limitations.
- Make sure the drone is well maintained and in proper working order. Don’t fly a system with known issues.
- Don’t fly if you are tired, under the influence, or not well prepared. You are the key link in the chain of command and have ultimate control over safety, only fly when you are 100% up to the task.
- Always have a spotter, don’t drone alone. There is a lot to manage to fly safely and an extra set of eye’s are critical to make sure no surprises happen.
- Don’t fly over active highways and roads, it is a distraction to drivers and could lead to an accident.
- If you see another drone operator flying in an unsafe manner try to educate them in a polite and friendly manner. Many new people are unaware of the rules and general safety and a bit of help can go a long way to building a better community of users. If they are unwilling to listen and feel outside the law then reporting them to local law enforcement or Transport Canada may be the only option if you feel they are putting others at risk, but always try to educate as a first step.
- Always remember that you are an ambassador and the face of all drone pilots when in public. If approached by someone who has issues or concerns be prepared to listen and to show that their concerns will be taken seriously. Offer to explain the benefits and enjoyment of these systems.
- Use common sense. At the end of the day it comes down to applying basic common sense and respect. Don’t do something unsafe or that could harm or upset others.
If you have other suggestions let us know, the more we can share & educate other operators the better the public perception of drones will become.