What does a church building count as? Recreational or something else?

I’m trying to work out what is allowed to fly over a church building (when empty).

If a church is classed as recreational, then I don’t have to worry about the weight so much, but if it’s not recreational, then I’ll have to make sure to only use a drone under 250g…

Does anyone know the answer to the classification of a church building?

It matters where it is rather than what its used for

Check out good to go

Yeah the question of whether it counts as a “recreational” built up area only matters if you’re operating under an A16 OA for recreational flying. If you’re flying open category then it doesn’t really matter and usual built up area rules apply.

If it’s Industrial, commercial or residential then I can’t fly over it with a drone over 250g.
Unfortunately, the examples that they list don’t cover ‘places of worship’.

  • Residential areas include cities and towns, villages, housing estates, schools
  • Recreational areas include tourist attractions, sports facilities, beaches and parks, theme parks

I would class it more under the ‘recreational’, but as they include schools as ‘residential’, I dunno… hence my question

I wouldn’t count York Minster as recreational.

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There’s a case to be made that churches can be classed as commercial buildings because they very often include a lot of charitable work which falls under “commercial” use in aviation rules.

Are you planning to operate open category or A16 OA though? Because that’s the only real thing that changes whether it matters.

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I plan on the A16, and possibly get the A2CofC as well.

At the end of the day, I ordered a new drone about a week ago before realising that there were weight regulations in place… and the drone is a tad heavy (550g).

It was something the church in question was wanting to check the roof tiles without having to get someone up there.

So… I just really need to know if it can be used (legally), or if I need to order another (lighter) drone and keep the big one for countryside shots

Just a reminder that the OA16 cannot be used for commercial purposes, and I would hazard a guess they would like you to have some insurance/RA in place.

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So first off, what Chris said ^

The FPVUK, BMFA etc. A16 OAs only apply to recreational use anyway. Different if you have an A16 OA from a GVC qualification. The recreational A16 OAs are where the issue around it being recreational derives from and the rules are only different under those OAs regarding “recreational” built up areas.

Under A3 or A2 rules you can overfly built up areas if they’re unoccupied or the people are inside and protected. But that counts for being sure of that for any surrounding buildings in your separation distance for A3. You can have more freedoms in this regard if you have A2 CofC.

Ha! Misread that initially and (mentally) added a “t” to his name. Must have been the “church” title that took me there.


I wouldn’t be getting anything for it other than pictures, so it’s non-commercial.
They just also want a closer look at the roof every now and again.
I mean, there is a park opposite, a kids football training ground on one side and a golf course on the other… It would be a great place to fly around :smiley:

As what you say is probably it, commercial, I’ll shelve it and get a sub 250g drone.

What I’d say before you go and do that first is assess the area and whether you’d need to operate in the separation distance for any neighbouring built up areas that wouldn’t be under your control. If that’s the case then yeah, you’d want either your A2 CofC or a <250g drone to make sure you operate legally. If you can speak to the church and make sure either it’s vacant at the time, or everyone is inside and safe at the time, or you can make anyone there an involved person then go for it.

A <250g drone is always worth having for any drone pilot though IMO.

It is use class F1

See my site here :joy:

Not sure that really helps you however…

But maybe avoid a funeral!

If I read it correctly you are restricted by weight and qualification when f;ying over recreational. commercial and residential areas

A primarilly industrial area may also have residential and recreational buildings and facilities within it. The key word, to me at least, is area The church is an individual building, it doesn’t fall into a restricted category like a prison or a nuclear power station.

If you have the permission of someone who is allowed to grant it and your church has a modicum of churchyard around it you will be fine.

If you were repeatedly buzzing the windows as a funeral was being conducted inside you could expect to get some grief. If you are wearing a hi-viz vest, moving your aircraft slowly and methodically over the roof and arebeing supervised by a bloke ina cassock no-one will complain. The may show interest at which point you can show them the phone image of the rooftop but otherwise you’ll be fine

It’s great that you have concerns to do things by the book but there are times when you overthink the situation! :slight_smile:


Perhaps being pedantic here, but…

You don’t get an ‘A16 OA’ by doing a GVC.

Article 16 is the part of the legislation for ‘model associations’. (Only the model associations can have ‘A16 OAs’.)

You get an Operational Authorisation (OA) by doing a GVC.

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Oops, my bad in mixing the two up there.

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My thoughts exactly a place where people congregate on mass should be considered residential on worship days !