Quadcopter law: Is it legal?

The short answer is that it depends on where you intend to fly your drone. There are lots of countries that specifically banned drones of any kind that have cameras attached to them because they are considered to be an intrusion on the private life of the regular citizen. Still many countries did not regulate this field yet but you may be surprised that regular people may feel irritated if you fly a drone above their head depending on what country you are. But more on that you can find below where I developed this topic in more detail. Remember that I specified some stricter regulations that can be found in some European Union countries and in some US states, but you may simply live in a state where no regulations whatsoever exist on this topic, so don’t take everything as granted.

GoPro FlyerBefore we begin, if you do not already own a quadcopter you may want to check out this article that gives a synopsis of the top quad drones on the market.

Drone/Quadcopter law:

If you’re holding your first Quadcopter in your hands, you’re probably longing for one thing: immediately take one off to the skies. As you spend more time with your quadcopter in the skies, you will find that a few people feel irritated or intrigued when some sort of device with a camera flies over their head or even more controversial, over their house. Then the question arises, what limitations do I have with my drone and on which law I can argue if I get asked about what I am doing. I pointed out some facts that are very important for every person that plans to fly any kind of quadcopter.

What rights do I have as a Quadcopter pilot?

The nice thing about quadcopters is that everybody can fulfill their dream of flying and capture footage that in the past was impossible to take. Now there is an important distinction about who can fly a drone without a permit and in what circumstances. Generally there is a limit of 5kg of added weight to the quadcopter, so if you do not pass this limit you do not need any kind of permit no matter what your age is. But if the weight exceeds 5kg your quadcopter will be considered to be used for professional film capturing, and you will require a permit from your local authorities. Then a so-called ascent permit with the competent supervision of air must be applied for that. This can vary from country to country but in general these terms apply.

As a private person, you may launch your drone on an open area or land, without getting into legal trouble. Also the separated lands belong to the permitted flight region just be sure that you are not flying your quadcopter over someone’s private land, as this can easily get you in front of a judge if the land owner is very strict about stuff like this.

Summarized in the overview below it means that you can (without commercial background):

  • Fly a drone in each age group
  • Fly in cordoned or peculiar areas
  • Fly on open fields, without obstacles

What rules must I follow, if I fly with my Quadcopter?

There are a few duties which you must adhere to in order to respect the laws for flying a Quadcopter. So, flights above 1500 meters around airports are absolutely forbidden, because collisions with an aircraft can have devastating consequences, as demonstrated by incidents in the United States.

Further regulations stipulate that Quadcopter pilots must control their drone not over densely populated urban areas (E.g. Berlin) and the flying over crowds is not allowed. Also places like populated beaches, concerts etc. are not suitable with flying a quadcopter. Because as you may already know quadcopters are not that stable and when it comes to crashes, people may be injured by the propeller and the body of the quadcopter.

Probably something that you already thought about is that private plots of land and “spying” the neighbors is a punishable offence. General rules say that no close-ups may be made on individuals, if they were not informed in advance and they have given their permission. If there is a crash, you must provide responsible compensations even if you have correctly controlled the drone.

Once again, this means brought us to the point that you must…

  • Fly 1500 meters away from airports (also sailing airports)
  • Be sure that your quadcopter does not exceed 5 kg in total weight
  • Avoid densely populated areas of the city and crowds
  • Avoid private land

Controversial media articles report that the drones often have a negative impact and that is why people seem to be scared of drones. In the media they are often connected to incidents in conjunction with a negative story. It is true that drones are not just toys, but also with their fast-moving rotor blades can be dangerous. There is however no reason to name multicopters in general as dangerous and uncontrollable flight models, because most of the time not the technology, but the pilot failed.