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Last edited 18 Feb 2021
Drone regulations and safety
There is a growing use of drones in construction. Their aerial use is governed by a well-established regulatory framework devised for the commercial use of unmanned aircraft. There are also the health and safety concerns for individuals working in the vicinity of the flight area.
- The operator must hold a permit (PfCO) issued by the Civil Aviation Authority.
- The drone with equipment attached must be registered in the correct weight and sensor category:
- 0-7 kg (small unmanned aircraft - SUA).
- 7-20 kg (larger drone).
- 20 kgs and over.
- SUAs (majority used in construction) may be operated in congested areas providing they are not brought within 50 m of any person, structure or vehicle outside the control of the drone’s operational management. This is reduced to 30 m during take off and landing.
- Larger drones are prohibited to fly within 150 m of a city, town or area substantially populated through commercial or residential use.
- The standard PfCO stipulates a maximum 500 m distance line of sight at all times by operator visibility to the naked eye (VLOS).
- Maximum height of a SUA must not exceed 122 m above the level of take-off.
- The commercial operator must carry insurance in compliance with EC Regulation 785/2004.
- Check the licenses, qualifications, competence and experience of the operator.
- Prepare a clear brief in regard to the data required.
- Consider any neighbour objections in regard to privacy.
- Provide an induction session for the operator and its team.
- Approve the flight plans, risk assessment and timetables with special attention to hazards and aerial obstructions such as crane movements, aerial masts and cables.
- Check insurances are in order.
- Inform all personnel affected by the planned flights of the flight plans to protect their safety. This might include external parties such as emergency services that use helicopters.
- Agree an emergency procedure in the event of drone or controls mechanical failure.
- Agree copyright ownership and privacy terms on data acquired by the drone prior to instruction.
- Obtain signed confirmation by the operator prior to flight that the conditions and circumstances are safe.
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