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On 2nd Feb 2022, in Dublin, Ireland, a company was flying a commercial drone over children and adults in a school setting below.

They are claiming what they are doing is legal, is that true?

Can you fly commercial drones over children without their consent?

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Yes, the rules are pretty much the same in the EU as in the UK :)

Being part of the EU, the flying and operation of drones in Ireland is subject to European Union Regulation 2019/947.

In EU, the UAVs are split in 5 categories (from C0 to C4) based on their mass.

Also, the flights themselves are split in different categories based on their risk level. The three main categories are OPEN, SPECIFIC and CERTIFIED.

The OPEN category (with sub-categories A1, A2 and A3) does not allow any flying over people under any circumstance (no difference made between children/adults, etc). The only 'excpetion' being that for aircrafts less than 250g (C0), flying over uninvolved people is 'tolerated'.

Considering the drone in question weighs more than 250g (wich is more likely, as you commented above), the only way they could fly legally above people within the SPECIFIC category (or CERTIFIED).
Considering the moderate level of risk involved, flights in this category (SPECIFIC) require authorization before the operation. The permission is given by the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) considering the mitigation measures identified in an operational risk assessment.

Now remains one question : did they have that authorization ? :)

EDIT: In addition to the authorization, the operator (not necessarily the pilot, more like the manager) needs to be registered and the actual pilot needs an (official) practical skill training and assessment (‘UAS Remote Pilot Competency Certificate’). https://www.iaa.ie/general-aviation/drones/drone-training---remote-pilot-competency

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The situation is fairly complex, and schools have no special protection.

There are various categories for drone operation. Most hobbyists operate in the 'open' category, and are required to stay 150m away from crowds and 'built up areas', which includes schools. They're also required to stay under 400ft (120m) so they are not a hazard to low flying aircraft.

That means you can't satisfy the 150m rule by just flying 150m above the buildings.

There are exemptions for drones under 250g because they are unlikely to hurt anyone if they crash.

However, you mention that this was a commercial drone, so the pilot was probably operating under either the 'specific' or 'certified' category. These allow people to fly in areas that would not be allowed under the open category but they are much more tightly controlled by the CAA.

https://register-drones.caa.co.uk/drone-code/where-you-can-fly

EDIT: sorry, I've just realised that you said EU, not UK. I think the rules are similar enough that I'll leave this until someone posts an EU specific answer.

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    $\begingroup$ Many thanks @RobinBennett. I expect the rules are pretty similar. The company said they were doing work on behalf of the council and had a permit. I was in a company where we had a typhoon h yuneec. Their drone was considerably bigger, probably a €4,000 DJI type one. Just astonished that there were no signs up/ notification. $\endgroup$
    – SeanJ
    Feb 5, 2022 at 11:48

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