The recent Air Navigation Law Amendment (The Air Navigation Order 2016 as amended) made several very important changes to the drone legislation, not least of which was the introduction of a single weight class for up to 20kg (rather than the previous 0 – 7kg, 7 – 20kg split).  However, there was one amendment with regard to indoor drone flight that seemed to go largely unreported.

Flying a Drone Indoors

Prior to the amendment, it was stated by the CAA that the law applied equally to drone flights taking place indoors or outdoors i.e. there was no distinct difference between the two.  Now the CAA state on their website that this is now not the case. While the statement on the CAA website is clear, we contacted Jonathan Nicholson, Assistant Director, Communications Department, Civil Aviation Authority to confirm our understanding, which he has.

The statement on the CAA website here: https://www.caa.co.uk/Consumers/Unmanned-aircraft/Recreational-drones/Recreational-drone-flights/

… at the bottom of the page

And here too: https://www.caa.co.uk/Commercial-industry/Aircraft/Unmanned-aircraft/Small-drones/Regulations-relating-to-the-commercial-use-of-small-drones/

…. About half way down.

‘Indoor use – The applicability of the regulations with regard to flights within buildings has been clarified recently.  Under the CAA Act 1982, the Air Navigation Order is made for the purposes of regulating air navigation.  Flights inside buildings have nothing to do with air navigation because they can have no effect on flights by aircraft in the open air.  As a result, flights within buildings, or within areas where there is no possibility for the unmanned aircraft to ‘escape’ into the open air (such as a ‘closed’ netted structure) are not subject to air navigation legislation.  Persons intending to operate drones indoors should refer to the appropriate Health and Safety at Work regulations. ‘

So it seems that the CAA have put indoor flights squarely off their agenda and leave it to pilots to ensure that such flights are conducted according the proper health and safety rules, which we whole heartily agree.

Jonathan Nicholson has also signposted that it is likely to remain the case for the forthcoming European EASA regulations as well.

So it’s clear for now that indoor drone flights are outside of the remit of the CAA and although it’s up to the pilot to ensure that they are conducted to the same high safety standards as they would normally use.

Drone Safe Register have many Professional members who can fly indoors safely. Please visit our website to book a pilot near you now.