1
$\begingroup$

I'm trying to figure out how balanced are drone flying regulations (say, in the EU) when compared against the range most small modern drones offer right out of the box.

From what I can tell a drone operator must keep a line-of-sight to their drone when flying the A1 category. Except... even my old Mavic Mini 1 (which is now 3 years old) can easily fly 500m before any signal interference is observed (admittedly only in favourable conditions). Newer DJI models have switched the Wifi connection for a radio connection to expand the range even further. To keep a drone as small as a Mini in view at those 500m (and up to 120m above ground) or beyond would require quite the pair of binoculars and a very steady hand.

This made me think, and I can't seem to find a straight answer. It seems that regulations are not really in-line with the current-day drone market, requiring expensive licenses if one were to make full use of their drone in a fully legal manner (i.e. something that allows BVLOS flight). Is that really the case? Or is this more of a case where everyone acknowledges the regulations but keeps flying "their way" anyway? Or is this much like with the speedometer range in a modern-day car - the maximum speeds are mostly inaccessible (unless one lives in Germany or wants to break the law)?

$\endgroup$
2
  • $\begingroup$ You may find people better qualified to answer questions about the legal frameworks on Law:SE? $\endgroup$ May 12, 2022 at 11:44
  • $\begingroup$ @sempaiscuba Possibly? I thought a drone-centric SE site would be better suited (especially since there IS a "regulations" tag), but perhaps you are right. I'm honestly not completely sure. $\endgroup$
    – MBender
    May 12, 2022 at 12:04

1 Answer 1

1
$\begingroup$

The line of sight law is intended to ensure that you can see and avoid low flying aircraft. At the moment all aircraft either rely on their pilot visually avoiding other aircraft, or they're under air traffic control. In the future it's expected that larger drones will have to mix with light aircraft, either with some sort of radio beacon and detector in both, or some way for the drone to see and avoid the light aircraft. Until then we rely on drone pilots being able to see where they are.

If the technology wasn't capable of flying beyond line of sight, we wouldn't need laws - just like we wouldn't need speed limits if cars were slow. The laws were made to stop people doing dangerous things.

Drone laws are new and still a bit crude (although also quite complex enough already). Laws take time to be adjusted to really fit the technology, and when the technology is advancing so fast it's no surprise that they're not perfect.

$\endgroup$
2
  • $\begingroup$ How low do aircraft typically fly (aside from take-off/landing)? I.e. sightseeing flights? The point about larger drones is very interesting tho we're obviously not there yet. PS. I did some digging and from what I can tell there's no way to legally fly, say, a Mavic Mini 2 at the max range (up to 10KM according to tests online). But it's also in a category that doesn't require a pilot license at all (EU, <250g) so technically an operator could claim ignorance to the VLOS rules... $\endgroup$
    – MBender
    May 16, 2022 at 12:23
  • $\begingroup$ Light aircraft typically fly anywhere between 500 and 10,000 feet. Any lower and they wouldn't have a chance to pick an emergency landing field, any higher and they'd need oxygen. That's only 'typical' though. Crop dusters fly at treetop height (or lower) and an air ambulance helicopter might land anywhere. Sightseeing is probably 1-2,000ft. $\endgroup$ May 16, 2022 at 14:08

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.