Getting a drone for Christmas? These are the rules

Unmanned drones are becoming increasingly cheap to buy and popular to use. Credit: PA

With drone aircraft available to buy online for as little as £28, many Brits will wake up on Christmas day as brand new drone owners.

Potential operators should note that the rules for flying drones in the UK are set by the Civil Aviation Authority, the same body in charge of regulating commercial airlines, private pilots and air traffic controllers.

Some drones are available online for as little as £28. Credit: Amazon

The rules are as follows:

  • An unmanned aircraft must never be flown beyond the normal unaided "line of sight" of the person operating it - this is generally measured as 500m (1,640ft) horizontally or 122m (400ft) vertically.

  • An unmanned aircraft fitted with a camera must always be flown at least 50m (164ft) distance away from a person, vehicle, building or structure.

  • An unmanned aircraft fitted with a camera must not be flown within 150m (492ft) of a congested area or large group of people, such as a sporting event or concert.

  • Operators must have a CAA licence to fly a drone for commercial purposes

The CAA says it has successfully prosecuted only two operators of unmanned drones for safety breaches to date.

A report out today said a pilot coming in to land at Heathrow earlier this year spotted what he thought was a drone just 20ft away from his passenger plane.

And plenty of videos on YouTube show drones crashing to the ground in built up areas or close to where people are gathered.

At 3.30 into this video, a drone camera is seen smashing onto a busy beach. Luckily no one was hurt.

At 2.30 into this video, a drone crashes into a building after losing control and narrowly missing vehicles in a nearby car park.

And this photographer might want to practice his flying skills a little more before attempting his next wedding.

At 1.30, the vehicle speeds straight into the faces of his newlywed subjects.