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.

As the technology and its uses continue to evolve, it will be wise to keep an eye on further legislation in regard to drone use.

This article provides a guide to regulations and good practice under current law in respect of commercial operation:

  • 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‚Äôs 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.

With regard to health and safety, management employing the commercial use of a drone should:

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