Flying FPV Drones in the UK

Hi my name is Andi and I’m here to tell you about FPV Drones. I’ll go over some of the basics of what is an FPV drone, laws, and guidelines but I’ll also give you my thoughts on the new DJI FPV Drone. So let's get started!

What is an FPV drone?

An FPV drone is ultimately designed to be small, lightweight, and very fast. This type of drone usually is as raw as drone flying can get. It’s fun, hard but extremely rewarding. Unlike conventional drones, you would fly in a first-person perspective as if you're playing a racing video game or rather driving a real car itself. You become a part of the drone and not just someone on the ground looking up and watching your drone fly through the clouds.

To help explain the different types of drones I will split them into 3 categories for you;

No 1. Cheap and cheerful

These drones are the type of drones you pick up for sub £100 and usually have no GPS flight assist features a relatively decent camera for the cost, but can be unstable to fly. These drones are actually closer to the same flight experience of how an FPV drone handles.

No 2. Safe and Reliable

These drones are the sort of drones most people will have. GPS assistance, packed full of features, high-end cameras for filmography, and quite stress-free when it comes to flying them.

No 3. Self Built Flying Machines

These are the type of drones that look like they were made in someone's garage, and that most likely because they were. However, these drones are built by passion, experience and by people that have incredible flying skills. These are the drones that provide those Instagram videos of drones flying under cars or around and through trains, and backflips near buildings. These are FPV Drones. Edge of your seat flying machines.

What are the laws in the UK regarding First Person Drone Flights?

The UK laws for flying an FPV Drone are no different than if it were a regular drone. In fact, it is more restrictive on FPV drones and there are laws that the general public must adhere to. To find the latest news regarding Drone laws please make sure you visit the CAA Website which we will link below. The following text has been copied from the CAA Official drone guidelines and law on 15/03/2021.

‘First Person View

Unmanned aircraft that are fitted with video cameras often provide an opportunity to downlink ‘live’ video to the remote pilot either via a mobile phone, tablet computer or other screen, or even through video goggles - this capability provides the pilot with a pseudo ‘pilots eye view’ from the UAS itself and is generally given the term ‘First Person view’ (FPV).  

The remote pilot must always keep the UAS within their unaided visual line of sight, but FPV may be used, when a spotter is assisting the remote pilot.

The law states:

“The remote pilot may be assisted by a UA observer helping them to keep the unmanned aircraft away from other aircraft and obstacles.

The UA observer must be situated alongside the remote pilot and observers must not use aided vision (e.g. binoculars).

UA observers may also be used when the remote pilot conducts UAS operations in first-person view (FPV), which is a method used to control the UA with the aid of a visual system connected to the camera of the UA. In all cases, the remote pilot is still responsible for the safety of the flight.”

UAS Implementing Regulation- UAS.OPEN.060  

Note: Images captured by a camera and displayed on a flat screen afford the pilot little by way of depth perception and no peripheral vision. This can make it difficult for the pilot to accurately judge speed and distance and to maintain sufficient awareness of the area surrounding the aircraft to effectively ‘see and avoid’ obstacles and other aircraft - as a result, the use of FPV equipment is not an acceptable mitigation for Beyond Visual Line of Sight flight unless the relevant operator has received a specific authorisation to do so from the CAA.’

Is FPV drone flying legal?

As long as you abide by the UK drone laws, flying an FPV drone can be done legally.

What is FPV racing

Drone racing is a sport that has been around for quite some time. It’s usually hosted in high-profile venues and consists of a 2-day event with a hefty cash prize that attracts over 120 competitors. These FPV Pilots all started off as amateur pilots with the aim of flying drones that are different from your conventional drones.

Their setup of a remote controller, FPV goggles with a 2.4hz image transmission and a course laid out to challenge their FPV piloting abilities. Some piolets also choose to have an FPV tripod setup for their ground control. These drones also have no assists so you can think of it as they are flying in manual mode. These drones are designed to be repaired easily with parts that don’t cost a great deal of money as 9/10 times they will fly into something.

Why would I need an FPV drone?

The quick answer is, you don’t need an FPV drone. But if you want to start off in FPV flying then the new DJI FPV drone will allow you to dip your toe into the water, but that's about it. If you want the full unhinged feeling of FPV flying then I recommend looking into your garage-built systems.

What are my thoughts on the DJI FPV Drone? (Although I’ve not had the chance to fly it)

Well, straight off the bat I think it looks rather cool, the build quality looks strong and kind of alien which I think is pretty neat. After that my own personal attachments of FPV drones came into play. After watching loads of YouTube videos doing my research on the new drone, the words that come to mind are safe and stable. Now, some of you might think ‘that’s the sort of FPV drone I want’, which if that is the case is fantastic, I genuinely believe that this drone is the best on the market for safety and stability. However, this is where I get a little brutal. Apart from the FPV field of view, this is where the DJI FPV drone goes into more of a content creation tool than an FPV racer/drone.

Now that might be a bit harsh to say as I’ve not flown one, however, all the footage generated from this drone is too smooth, stable and dare I say predictable. I don’t get the same intense feeling from watching the DJI FPV Drone footage as I would do from my own FPV drone. Part of owning an FPV drone is bizarrely having to fix it when you fly it into a house. I know this from my own experience!

I’m also concerned for anyone who starts off in the FPV drone world with this drone as it may create false habits. Flying an FPV drone is nothing like any regular drone, in fact, your closer to FPV drones with the non-gps drones than you are with anything else on the market.

I think the DJI FPV Drone is a great piece of kit to the right user, however, I’m personally not 100% convinced it will replace any custom-built FPV drones any time soon.

Thank you!

Thanks for taking the time to read our blog, we really do hope they help you out and answer some of your questions. If you still have some unanswered, then please feel free to get in touch with our team of experts.

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  • By Andi Thomas
  • 30 Mar 2021

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