We get asked this question all the team, even by qualified drone pilots! The most important term to use is SUA or ‘small unmanned aircraft’ but here is a brief description of the differences:
We like SUA and drone, but it doesn’t really matter what you use to describe your unmanned aircraft!
The short answer is no. The long answer is a little more complicated.
If your aircraft is more than 4 kilograms then you need to get drone training to operate in Irish Airspace. If it less than 4 kilograms, then you don’t need training if you stay clear of controlled/ prohibited and restricted airspace. These cover a lot of the country. To find out if the area you want to fly is in these airspaces then check out the airspace tab under useful links.
If you are serious about flying drones and want to do commercial work then it is very logical to do some training training and get licenced. Check out our past students opinions in the review section and see what they thought.
Since the Irish Aviation Authority introduced the new Irish Drone Rules at the end of December 2016, there is no difference between commercial and non-commercial flying. The Irish Aviation Authority have adopted a risk-based approach for drone flying. The more risk, the more restrictions.
This means that it doesn’t matter WHY you are flying your drone, the rules are the same. The majority of people who do our two day drone training course want to fly commercially although we frequently get enthusiasts. Our online drone training course is, however, primarily aimed at hobbyists, enthusiasts, and people who are unsure about whether they want to start a commercial operation.
The main document telling us about the Irish Drone rules is the Statutory Instrument 563/2015. It tells us that it does not apply to drones less than 1kg if it does not have substantial parts, is flown less than 50 feet / 15 metres and flown in a safe manner. The misconception is that if your aircraft is less than 1kg there are no rules, this is false.
If your aircraft has substantial parts or you want to fly it above 50 feet then the standard rules apply. In the case of the DJI Mavic, which is less than 1kg, there is an argument over whether it has substantial parts, but in any case you would need to stay below 50 feet, which is no fun.
There are no Drone rules which mention congested areas in Ireland. Remember to apply the standard rules, if you can fly and maintain your aircraft at least 30 metres from people, buildings and cars then you should be fine. Also remember to keep your drone 120 metres from gatherings of 12 or more people. You will really notice the benefit of drone groundshcool training in these scenarios. It is worth remembering that you should take extra precaution when flying in areas that you might consider as congested, if something goes wrong there is an increased risk and also there is a good chance that you will be challenged by people so it is worth informing the Gardai that you will be flying and also to have a team with you to deal with any questions which the public might have, don’t forget to bring some business cards!
Yes, there are no rules against flying your drone at night in Ireland. This is outlawed in a lot of countries but the rules in Ireland don’t deal with it and the Irish Authority have confirmed to us that there is no problem with this as it is covered by EASA’s SERA or Single European Rules of the Air. However, again, it is worth mentioning that we have to maintain visual line of sight and also you will find it difficult to spot obstacles like power lines at night. So we recommend that you reduce your range limits and also make sure to scout the area during the day and identify any hazards which might adversely affect your flight.