Opinions please

I work for a council owned manufactring plant making windows and doors for several newbuild sites around Bradford.
The problem we have is as follows:

Newbuild sites are “fluid” in their nature and we have little storage space for the windows,the plots that may need glazing and are being manufactured may not be complete and this causes many headaches.

We want to send the drone in for an update photo of a local site on say a weekly basis.

What are the legal implications of this?

Would it not be easier / quicker / cheaper to just walk round the site and have a looksee? :thinking:

I’m not sure of the size or scale of the sites though?

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Not if you want the council to pay for your PfCO license:joy:


You already know this would be a commercial operation and require PfCO from CAA.

As for the finer details maybe some of our members with PfCO would be able to answer any questions you have.

Any advice guys?
@JayForceOne @GTMonster @22northproductions @longstride @sparkman999 @Davester70 @Blacksails @Jcborden @PsychoTeapot

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Well most are covered in the drone code but more importantly landlords a approval for take off and landing any local airfields/ports notifications of flight and if it’s over a council estate risk of it getting nicked while in the air😉


Thanks for the tag Callum :slight_smile:

The short answer is - it might be possible, but probably not.

Now for my take on the longer response - the CAA define a ‘commercial flight’ as follows:

A commercial operation is defined as: ‘flight by a small unmanned aircraft except a flight for public transport, or any operation of any other aircraft except an operation for public transport;

* which is available to the public; or
* which, when not made available to the public, in the case of a flight by a small unmanned aircraft, is performed under a contract between the SUA operator and a customer, where the latter has no control over the remote pilot or in any other case, is performed under a contract between an operator and a customer, where the latter has no control over the operator, in return for remuneration or other valuable consideration.’

The key elements in understanding this term are ‘…any flight by a small unmanned aircraft…in return for remuneration or other valuable consideration’.

The term ‘available to the public’ should be interpreted as being a service or commodity that any member of the public can make use of, or actively choose to use, (e.g. because it has been advertised or offered to someone).

More info at the following link: https://www.caa.co.uk/Commercial-industry/Aircraft/Unmanned-aircraft/Small-drones/Regulations-relating-to-the-commercial-use-of-small-drones/

For this specific example (Manufacturing plant wanting an update on building progress on a third party building site) my thoughts are:

  1. If the drone photo is for internal management use only, I’m not sure it falls precisely under the CAA definition of a ‘commercial flight’ - but it might fall under ‘valuable consideration’;
  2. If the plant’s drone operator is given permission by the building site owner to fly there to take such photos, that sounds ok to me.


  1. The drone operator would of course need to follow the DroneCode in terms of distances to other people / buildings / structures etc
  2. Workers on the site would need to give their explicit permission to have the drone fly near them
  3. If anything were to go wrong during filming, would insurance cover be in place?

Without knowing the precise location, my guess would be that the building site lies in a built-up area, which would be the real show stopper, and would mean that the flight would need to be carried out by someone who has Permission from the CAA to operate in such an environment.

Just my thoughts - other PfCO holders feel free to weigh in :smiley:


A very comprehensive reply. Thanks, @Davester70. :+1:

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Quick reply time :slight_smile:

I’d say it sounds like a commercial operation, as your company is the beneficiary. However if you flew around in your personal time and took some photos that’s entirely your own hobby. Presume you will have permission to fly over and near the structures and people working there.

Other than that follow the code and be safe.

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Thanks everyone,plenty to work with there:grinning: