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Flying Without Wings

Own a drone? Beware, a man is in court for flying one over some famous places

Nigel Wilson failed to get permission for his flights.


Authorities across Europe are getting strict on where you can fly your impressive equipment.

As the European Commission is coming up with a set of rules about how they should be used, Paris has been plagued by mystery drones, with police scrambling to find out who is flying them and a crackdown in the UK has landed another man in court.

Nigel Wilson from Nottingham has been summonsed to appear at Westminster Magistrates Court on 16 April for failing to get the correct permissions before flying his drone.

He is accused of 17 offences under the Air Navigation Order 2009, laws which outline that people must get permission from the Civil Aviation Authority to fly drones or unmanned aerial vehicles over congested areas.

Between 13 September 2014 and 2 December 2014, the 42 year old flew his drone over the Houses of Parliament, the Queen Victoria memorial, Buckingham Palace, Anfield and other football stadiums, and the River Thames.

Some of the charges relate to Wilson allegedly failing to maintain direct and unaided visual contact with the drone to ensure against collisions.

He could become the second man to be convicted for drone-related offences.

Last April, a man was fined £800 for dangerously flying a drone near the Jubilee Bridge. He was also ordered to pay costs of £3,500. Robert Knowles called the conviction ‘ridiculous’, stating that he flew his drone recreationally for years. His YouTube channel features a number of drone videos.

Earlier this month, the House of Lords called on the European Union to create an online database for tracking and managing drones.

What happens in Ireland?

For now, the only specific legislation governing the use of Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) in Ireland is the (Rockets and Small Aircraft) Order, 2000, which is currently under review.

While the regulations and requirements behind RPAS are extensive – it’s highly recommended that you read the full overview from the IAA here if you’re seriously thinking of piloting one - in layman terms, they’re effectively treated the same way as manned aircrafts.

That means it cannot present or create a greater hazard to anyone or anything, either in the air or on the ground, than that of a manned aircraft. They can only fly in segregated airspace and require written permission from the IAA.

Read more about how to fly drones in Ireland here.

With Quinton O’Reilly

Explainer: So what’s the deal with drones, eh?

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