In fact this is what I’m thinking of sending if anyone wants to proof read or make suggestions. It’s already pretty long and I’ve used some wording from this thread already to aid me. I don’t want to make it any longer than is necessary!!
Thanks for your email.
You’ve made a number of incorrect assumptions which I’d like to clarify when answering your questions.
The suggestion the flight was taken illegally without all of the required qualifications/permits and permissions is incorrect and I take such a statement unfondly. Hopefully it was just poorly worded. I appreciate drone laws are complicated and I don’t assume myself to be an expert in them either. They were updated on 31 December 2020 to be more simplified, but there are still a number of variables depending on drone/qualifications and operational authorisations, so it’s not always black and white.
Do you hold a GVC or PFCO from the CAA or an A2 C of C if flying an aircraft under 250g
No, in fact none of those are required for a drone that weighs under 250g which qualifies for the ‘open A1 category’. The bare minimum is that the drone owner has an operator ID and has read the manual.
Can you please supply a copy of the filming permit from Birmingham City Council along with any take off and landing permissions from a private landlord as this will have demonstrated that a risk assessment and site survey had been conducted. Certainly when there are groups of people about.
None of that was required. My flight was originally conducted as recreational, not commercial. The flight was conducted from public footpaths. Victoria Square and the adjacent streets are all pedestrianised public spaces. No requirement for take off and land permissions from landowners was necessary. A copy of my risk assessment for city centre flying in Birmingham which I review periodically, the pre-flight report for the early morning flight via Altitude Angel/Drone Assist and a copy of my public liability insurance document for recreational flying can be provided should you wish to continue discussion. No people were on site other than security on the early morning flight of 2nd September as the site had not opened to the public, therefore my judgement call was “not crowded.” The direct overflight of the site on the late evening of the 15th of September for the top down shot was again a judgement call that the site was not crowded at that point. I’ll leave that to your discretion upon reviewing the direct overhead top-down shots. They are the only pictures taken directly above the site. All other flying was done outside the perimeter of the site. Visual line of sight was kept at all times. No additional risk assessment or flight plan was done for the evening flight as no additional risks were identified in the 13 days since the original flight.
Can you confirm that you had permission from the buildings that they are flying within 50m of.
I’m not sure if you mean 50m above or sideways but no permissions from building owners is required and there is no minimum distance for unmanned aircraft. A drone weighing below 250g can be near residential, recreational, commercial or industrial areas. A pilot with additional qualifications can also fly bigger drones without the need for permissions from nearby buildings. People/businesses own land not airspace. This 50m requirement is myth and has been clarified by the CAA previously. Many solicitors quote it’s in section 76 of the Civil Aviation Act 1982 but no such exact measurement requirement exists except for stating the height has to be reasonable.
Whilst I respect people should be able to expect privacy in private areas, no filming or photography of anyone in private or business premises was taken at the time and generally speaking I do try to ensure I am 50m above nearest object where possible.
Furthermore there were no flight restrictions issued in the area by NATS AIS at the time of flying on either occasion.
I was flying within the provisions of the Drone Code and all relevant legislation as a recreational pilot taking pictures for my own purposes. I have an operator ID and a flyer ID issued by the CAA which is more than the bear minimum required.
I try to go above and beyond this by having public liability insurance in place. I do risk assessments beforehand when flying in a busy public location and submit flight reports via Altitude Angel. I wear a hi-vis as well as identification so anyone objecting to my presence can easily identify me.
Apologies if the tone of this email sounds off, but it’s important hobbyist photographers who just happen to have a flying camera in their kitbag are not given a bad name or accused of doing things illegally when they are well within their right to do so. Knowing the make, model and weight of the drone, clarifying Flyer/Operator ID and seeing evidence of public liability insurance has more than satisfied the BBC & ITV amongst other print based media that I’m not an irresponsible drone pilot when prior footage was captured by myself for editorial purposes.
Thanks for taking the time to read.