So many Illegal Drone Operators

Drone Safe Register (DSR) is on a mission to stamp out illegal drone operators who commercially fly their drones for financial gain without permission from the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and without any insurance indemnity.  UK law stipulates that anybody flying a UAV for financial gain must have the necessary permissions from the CAA and public liability insurance.

Having spoken to our members we are hearing a recurring theme.   Illegal drone pilots are operating in all parts of the country giving legal operators a bad name and taking business from them.  This is concerning for a number of reasons.

Firstly, the safety implications of illegal drone operators flying for financial gain are a serious concern.  Without the proper training and assessment to gain CAA permission, illegal drone operators often have no idea of the drone code nor the danger their drone poses to the public or property.  They have no clue how high they can fly or the minimum distances their drone can fly near people, buildings or vehicles.   The CAA’s drone code has been set for good reason and flouting the rules could result in prosecution and fines.  When you fly a drone in the UK it is your responsibility to be aware of the rules that are in place to keep everyone safe.

The CAA’s drone code can be reviewed here…

View the Drone Code

Secondly, illegal drone pilots are adversely impacting the livelihoods of legal drone pilots who have their CAA permission and insurance in place.  Gaining CAA permission and purchasing insurance comes at a considerable financial cost.  Illegal operators who fly for financial gain and who haven’t completed the PFAW course nor bought insurance are able to undercut and steal jobs from legal operators.  This is unacceptable.

This week Drone Safe Register spoke to DSR member Paul Attwood who runs Attwood Media based in the Cotswolds.  Attwood Mediaare qualified and competent drone pilots who hold full permissions from the CAA with £5 million public liability insurance.  One of Paul’s reasons for joining DSR was the amount of illegal drone operators that he discovered were flying for financial gain without CAA permission.

In conversation, Paul told DSR, “I know of estate agents and even a UK holiday company who are promoting their businesses using drones and flying without CAA permission.  As a small to medium sized business there is no doubt that illegal drone operators are affecting my livelihood.  Getting trained up and CAA status cost me over £1500 so it is frustrating to discover pilots who are operating commercially without the legal qualifications.  What needs to happen is a fresh prosecution to deter illegal drone operators.”

Paul’s advice to anybody looking to hire a drone is to always check that their drone pilot has CAA permission for aerial work and always ensure that they have public liability insurance.   Don’t be afraid to ask for these!

Drone Safe Register also spoke to DSR member Nina Bruton who heads up Bracknell based Just Sky High Imaging.  Nina is discovering the hard way that illegal drone operators are flying for financial gain and undercutting her business.  Nina told DSR, “We have just lost a job to a drone pilot that we know is operating without CAA PFAW status.  We were all set to do the job and we discovered that an illegal drone pilot offered to do the job for a mere £100.”

So what can be done to stamp out illegal drone operators?  If you are a CAA PFAW professional pilot we invite you to become a member of Drone Safe Register.  DSR provides a searchable national database and digital map of trained, qualified and insured drone pilots who are available for hire. The register geographically lists profiles; complete with full contact details, logos, reviews, show reel and links to your website.  DSR makes sure that all its members have both CAA PFAW permission and hold valid commercial UAV insurance at all times.  By becoming a member of DSR you are joining the UK’s fastest growing marketed drone directory of safe and legal pilots.  We make the process of hiring a qualified and insured drone pilot quick and easy.  Because all our members hold CAA PFAW and insurance, it gives anybody looking to hire a drone operator the peace of mind that they are safe and legal.

Search for your Local Drone Pilot


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About the Author: DSR Journalist

Harrison Green

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