Drones exist in a variety of shapes and sizes, ranging from small handheld types up to large aircraft, some potentially a similar size to traditional large aircraft, and may be referred to as:
- Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS)
- Remotely Piloted Aerial Systems (RPAS)
- Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)
- Small Unmanned Aircraft (SUA)
- Small Unmanned Surveillance Aircraft (SUSA)
They may be used for a multitude of purposes including recreational flying, aerial photography and other commercial or military operations.
Just like any other aircraft, a drone must always be flown in a safe manner, both with respect to other aircraft in the air and also to people and property on the ground. When you fly a drone in the Isle of Man it is your responsibility to be aware of the rules that are in place to keep everyone safe.
Fly safely and legally
Follow these simple steps to make sure you are flying safely and legally:
- make sure you can see your drone at all times
- don't fly higher than 400 feet
- drones fitted with cameras must not be flown:
- within 50 metres of people, vehicles, vessels, or structures
- over or within 150 metres of a congested areas or large gatherings of people
- commercial operators are required to obtain written permission from the Isle of Man Civil Aviation Administration to fly within the limits detailed above
At night you are unlikely to be able to monitor the drone's flight path in relation to other aircraft or persons, vehicles, vessels and structures for the purpose of avoiding collisions. Can you really do this safely? Commercial operators are required to submit a specific safety case in support of a request to fly at night.
Always keep your drone away from aircraft, helicopters, airports and airfields. Recreational drone operators are strongly advised not to fly within 5 km of Isle of Man Airport (see map below, click for an enlarged view.) Commercial operators are required to obtain specific permission from Air Traffic Control to fly near Isle of Man Airport, in addition to holding a CAA Permission for their activities.
Guidance when flying over uninvolved people
When flying over uninvolved people you are strongly recommended to:
- Fly defensively and beware that you could lose control of the drone without notice
- Only fly directly over people when absolutely necessary
- Try to maintain some horizontal separation between the aircraft and uninvolved people
- Maintain a minimum distance of 50m from uninvolved people (30m during take-off and landing) at all times
- Consider how uninvolved people may react to the presence of a drone
- Reduce the harmful characteristics of the small unmanned aircraft to people by minimising its mass and not carrying unnecessary payloads
- Do not fly excessively fast near people
- Ensure that the drone is safe to fly and has been maintained/updated in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions
- Ensure that the drone has sufficient battery life for the intended flight and to cope with any unexpected issues
- Take into account environmental factors, such as wind or precipitation, which may affect the operation of the drone
- Consider using observers to warn uninvolved people in the case of an emergency with the drone
- Use available technology, such as return-to-home functionality, to reduce the risk of harm to uninvolved people
Airspace restrictions and hazards
The Restriction of Flying (Isle of Man Airport) Regulations 2018 prohibit the flying of drones weighing between 250g and 20kg within 5km of Isle of Man Airport. This area is shown by the red circle on the map below. If you have a requirement to fly a drone within this area, you must obtain permission from the Isle of Man CAA: email us at email@example.com for further information. You can find the full text of the regulations in the Downloadable Documents section on the right of this page.
Drone flights are also prohibited over the Isle of Man Prison at Jurby by the Restriction of Flying (Isle of Man Prison) Regulations 2018. You can find the full text of the regulations in the Downloadable Documents section on the right of this page.
Temporary restriction of flying regulations are used to protect the airspace inside and around the Isle of Man TT Mountain Course during the Isle of Man TT Races and Festival of Motorcycling. Drone flights are prohibited within the airspace within and up to 1000m outside the course while the roads are closed for practice or race sessions. Full details of the restrictions will be published by AIC and NOTAM nearer the time.
Drone flights near Andreas or Jurby airfields shold be conducted with particular care, especially in the areas in line with the runway ends where aircraft may be approaching to land or climbing away. Manned aircraft activity is infrequent at Jurby but Manx Model Flyers regularly operate model aircraft there. Manned aviation is more common at Andreas, in the form of Andreas Gliding Club gliders and powered light aircraft.
Keep in mind
- Make sure you have permission from Isle of Man Civil Aviation Administration to fly your drone for commercial purposes
- Drone operators must also respect the privacy of people on the ground. More information is available from:
- Be mindful to whose property you are flying your drone from or over
- Landowners are within their rights to refuse permission for drones to be flown from their land – Public areas may also be subject to additional policies and/or byelaws restricting the operation of drones and/or a requirement to obtain prior permission
- Use your common sense and fly safely – you could be prosecuted if you don't
- Follow the Drone Code