Advancements in drone technology have provided journalists with an unparalleled tool to capture stunning aerial footage and offer unique perspectives on various subjects.

However, despite strict adherence to legal guidelines and comprehensive safety measures, drone operators often face misunderstandings and hostility from the public.

The following exchange from my TikTok account illustrate the typical frustrations encountered when dealing with responses to legal drone work. In my experience, even when following all legal requirements, I frequently receive messages accusing me of illegal activities or questioning the ethics of my work.

For instance, in one exchange, a rather angry user named Jon Paul (@urbanjon1965) labelled my videos as “treasonous” and insisted I take them down despite my compliance with all relevant regulations:

“take down this treasonic video”, he said, making up a word.

Jon Paul’s repeated insistence on meeting face-to-face to discuss my “treasonous vids” was also odd.

“hope your from close by id like a face to face chat about your treasonous vids”

Additionally, in the comments section of my videos, viewers often claim that filming with a drone is illegal, which is not the case when conducted under proper guidelines.

These misconceptions stem from a lack of awareness about the regulations governing drone operations and, in this case, an apparent childish need to threaten someone on the internet. I suppose this sort of says more about the person commenting, could they think I’m an auditor? Who knows?

This exchange and others like them highlight the misunderstandings and aggression that can arise from public misperception, often culminating in unwarranted threats and insults directed at drone operators. Many people seem to assume that I am conducting my work illegally and broadcasting an illegal act to hundreds of thousands of people, which is an absurd position.

Ensuring Legal and Safe Drone Operations

At the UK Defence Journal, we take pride in our commitment to transparency and adherence to the highest standards of safety and legality in all our operations, especially when it involves unmanned aerial systems (UAS). We ensure that our drone flights abide by the Air Navigation Order (CAP 393) and CAP 722 guidelines, making every effort to operate within legal parameters and maintain public safety.

The Air Navigation Order (CAP 393) is a legislative document governing civil aviation in the UK. When our drone takes to the skies:

  • Altitude & Distance Limits: Our operator ensures the drone never exceeds the prescribed altitude and always maintains a safe distance from people, vehicles, and properties.
  • No-fly Zones: The operator respects all designated no-fly zones, including those around airports, government facilities, and other sensitive areas.
  • Flight Path Planning: Before every flight, a flight plan is chalked out, anticipating potential challenges and ensuring we remain compliant with all ANO stipulations.

CAP 722 – Unmanned Aircraft System Operations in UK Airspace, offers explicit guidance for drone operations.

  • Operator Proficiency: Our drone pilot undergoes rigorous training and possesses the required certification, ensuring they’re proficient and well-versed with CAP 722 guidelines.
  • Operational Limits: Despite our drone being sub 250g, which brings certain flexibilities, we strictly adhere to operational limits ensuring we neither fly in adverse weather nor outside stipulated timings.
  • Permissions: In scenarios where permissions are required, be it from landowners or other authorities, the UKDJ always ensures necessary approvals are in place before the drone takes off.

As a professional, I file flight plans and seek permission when needed. I am fully qualified and insured, ensuring that my operations are both legal and safe.

A Delicate Balance of Journalism and National Security

The UK Defence Journal remains devoted to transparently providing our readers with comprehensive insight into the nation’s defence landscape.

In fact, our team has a good working relationship with Counter Terrorism police, helping to inform of any unusual goings on whilst undertaking drone flights, having met with an officer on this very topic only recently.

Recognising the significance of the National Security Act 2023, we’ve instituted stringent measures that ensure our drone operations around shipyards strictly adhere to the Act’s provisions.

Safety Protocols to Preclude Reckless Endangerment

  • Risk Assessments: Before any flight, our team carries out an exhaustive risk assessment.
  • Flight Paths & Altitudes: Our drone pilot operates drones in a manner that adheres strictly to predetermined flight paths and maintains altitudes that are clear of obstructions or heavily populated areas.
  • Technical Proficiency: Every drone operator within our team is not only certified but also undergoes consistent and rigorous training sessions.
  • Equipment Check: Every drone in our fleet undergoes routine maintenance and is subject to meticulous pre-flight checks.
  • Geo-fencing Technology: Our drones employ geo-fencing technology, ensuring they function within designated zones.
  • Public Awareness: In instances where our drone operations are near public areas, we make it a point to inform local communities about the nature and timing of these flights.
  • Emergency Protocols: Our drones come equipped with a range of fail-safes, including return-to-home features and secure landing measures.
  • Insurance: Every drone flight we undertake is underpinned by a robust insurance policy.
  • Privacy & Discretion: We’re committed to ensuring our drones never inadvertently encroach upon private areas or inadvertently film individuals.

The Importance of Public Awareness

Despite these measures, public perception often lags behind. Many people are unaware of the stringent regulations and precautions that govern legal drone operations. Education and communication are crucial in bridging this gap.

While the frustrations of dealing with misunderstandings and hostility are real, they underscore the importance of continued efforts to educate and inform the public about the realities of legal and safe drone work.

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George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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Old Tony
Old Tony (@guest_823503)
1 month ago

George – if you do find yourself in a ‘face to face chat’, I’m sure that there are very many people here who would be more than happy to act as your minders. There’s be no need for conscription.

Rob N
Rob N (@guest_823523)
1 month ago

it saves the Russians/Chinese the bother of having to look for themselves…

People possibly do not like drones because who wants to be spied on from above….

SailorBoy (@guest_823525)
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob N

If the Russians or Chinese wanted to have a look at the T26s, they’d have to do better than drone footage from across the Clyde. Nothing of the internals can be seen and anything visible would be much clearer from a spy satellite or with binoculars.
The Chinese in particular will have much more information than is available on this site.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke (@guest_823556)
1 month ago
Reply to  SailorBoy

Agreed – you’d get much better pics with a telephoto lens from one of the tower blocks.

To what end?

The interesting bits have been bolted on and all you can see is the externals of the hull?

I think George has degraded the resolutions on some of the vids to be fair.

Rob N
Rob N (@guest_823576)
1 month ago

I suppose it does show the progress of the build I suppose. No I was not very serious about the benefit they could get.

However a Russian could use a suicide drone to attack the build as payback for us helping Ukraine. Not that far fetched.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke (@guest_823577)
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob N

Given the Salisbury comedy show (which sadly claimed lives) they would probably fly the drone into where the drone operators were standing…..