How close can we fly our drones to people, structures and vessels?

We’re often asked how close we can fly to people, structures and vessels and thought it would be best to explain this in a short blog.

As drone pilots with permission for commercial operations we’re legally permitted to operate in congested areas. A congested area means, ‘in relation to a city, town or settlement, any area which is substantially used for residential, commercial, industrial or recreational purposes’.

Hobbyists are not legally permitted to fly within 150m of these areas.


In addition to The Civil Aviation Authority giving us permissions to fly in congested areas we can also fly as close to a person, structure or vessel as we deem safe providing they are under our control. By being under our control it means we have their permission, they are aware of our flight plans and our emergency procedures and can be notified in the event of an emergency.

Without the person, structure or vessel being under our control with our in house permissions we can fly at 30m distance during take off/landing and 50m during flight. It’s slightly different when it comes to organised events of over 1000 people such as Victorious Festival.

Even as commercial operators we need to stay at a distance of 150m at all times. In rare cases we may need to fly closer to people, structures and vessels that are not under our control. We avoid the need for this by using longer lenses as there’s less risk involved when at a greater distance.

When required we employ other drone pilots who have permissions to fly at 10m distances during take off and landing and 30m during flight from people, structures and vessels that are not under their control. These pilots have what is called an operational safety case which has like our permissions been approved by The Civil Aviation Authority. We will be applying for our own early next year but for now we hire these pilots in when required. Don’t worry they have all been vetted by us to ensure we still deliver a top grade service.

In addition to this they are permitted to fly as close as 75m to organised events of over 1000 people.

When this isn’t close enough for our clients we offer telescopic mast and cable camera services. It’s all about safety, problem solving and delivering a high quality service.