Why have drones under 250g become so popular in the UK?
Regulations: In many countries, including the UK, there are specific regulations governing the use of drones based on their weight. Drones weighing less than 250g are typically categorised as “toy drones” or “low-risk” drones and are subject to less stringent regulations compared to heavier drones. This makes them more accessible and appealing to a wider range of users.
Ease of use: Drones under 250g are often designed to be user-friendly, with simplified controls and intuitive interfaces. They are generally easier to fly, especially for beginners, due to their smaller size and lighter weight. This accessibility has attracted hobbyists, recreational users, and even children who are interested in flying drones.
Portability: Drones weighing less than 250 grams are compact and lightweight, making them highly portable. They can easily fit into a backpack or even a pocket, allowing users to carry them around conveniently. This portability encourages spontaneous drone flights and makes them suitable for capturing aerial footage in various locations.
Lower cost: Drones under 250g tend to be more affordable compared to larger, professional-grade drones. This affordability makes them an attractive option for individuals who want to explore drone technology without making a significant financial investment. Additionally, the lower cost reduces the potential risk of financial loss in case of accidents or crashes.
Recreational use and aerial photography: Many people in the UK enjoy using drones for recreational purposes, such as capturing aerial photographs or videos. Some of the higher quality microdrones, equipped with built-in cameras or the ability to mount lightweight cameras, provide an accessible and affordable option for aerial photography enthusiasts. They offer a unique perspective and allow users to capture stunning shots from above.
Overall, the combination of relaxed regulations, ease of use, portability, affordability, and recreational applications has contributed to the growing popularity of drones under 250g in the UK.
Drones Under 250 Grams UK Law
What are the rules in the UK for drones below 250g?
Age Restrictions: There are no specific age restrictions for operating drones under 250g in the UK. However, it is recommended that children under the age of 13 are supervised by an adult while flying a drone, however if the drone is under 250g but not classed as a toy drone then they must register for a Flyer ID (and pass the exam).
Fly Responsibly: Regardless of the weight of the drone, all operators are required to fly responsibly. This means maintaining visual line of sight (VLOS) with the drone, avoiding hazards and other airspace users / aircraft.
The Air Navigation Order (ANO), Article 241: “A person must not recklessly or negligently cause or permit an aircraft to endanger any person or property”.
Privacy and Data Protection: When operating a drone, you must respect the privacy of individuals and comply with data protection laws. It is illegal to use a drone to capture images of individuals and their property without their consent, especially in areas where they have a reasonable expectation of privacy.
Fly within the height restrictions in the UK: Here in the UK drones are only allowed to operate up to an altitude of 400 ft or 120 metres from the closest point on the ground to the drone, if you are stood on top of a hill and fly up to the maximum altitude limit, if you fly out over a valley below, you must reduce altitude according to the position of the drone, not the operator.
Distance from People: If you’re flying a drone is less than 250g, you’re allowed to fly closer to people than 50m and even over them, but remember, flying over crowds is strictly prohibited. When considering how close you can fly a drone, always prioritise safety to prevent endangering others. Even small drones and model aircraft can cause injury if not flown safely. It is crucial to comply with all rules and regulations for drone flying to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.
Flying in Commercial, Residential and Industrial Areas: When operating a drone which is under 250 grams in weight you can fly at residential, recreational, commercial and industrial sites (unlike heavier drones which must maintain 150m distance). Remember, you must always fly safely.
Flight Restriction Zones (FRZ’s): Even though your drone is under 250g you still cannot fly within FRZ’s. In order to see where these zones are, using a tool like the Drone Safety Map by Altitude Angel is highly advised.
The Drone Code: The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has established a “Drone Code” that applies to all drone operators, including those flying drones under 250g. The Drone Code provides guidelines and rules for safe drone operation.
Is It A Toy Drone? If you are flying a drone which is under 250g and is classed as a toy drone then you don’t need to register for a Flyer ID, if the Drone isn’t classed as a toy, and does have a camera then you need to register for a Flyer ID with the CAA. All drones over 250g however do require you to have a valid Flyer ID (even if it doesn’t have a camera).
It’s important to note that regulations and laws can change over time. To ensure compliance with the most up-to-date regulations, it’s recommended to consult the official websites of the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for the latest information on drone regulations in the UK.
Do you need a licence to fly a drone under 250g?
It would depend on your intended use when flying drones under 250 grams, whether the drone has a camera. Licences in the drone world are primarily based on the class, size and weight of the drone you are flying. Drones without a camera and under 250g do not need to be registered (as the law currently stands at the time of writing). However, everybody who is flying a drone which isn’t classed as a “Toy Drone” which has a camera does require a Flyer ID, which is FREE to get, simply by completing a short online exam, based on The Drone Code by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
If you are intending to fly commercially, you will also require an Operator ID, which is around £10 via the CAA. Commercial work also requires you to hold relevant insurances, with a minimum of £750,000 of cover.
List of Drones under 250 Grams
If you’re in the market and looking to buy a new drone which is under 250g, the list below are some of the best drones under 250g available currently (along with a rough idea of price).
- DJI Mini 3 – £430.00
- DJI Mini 3 Pro – £850.00
- DJI Mini 2 – £300.00
- Eachine Ex5 – £230.00
- EMX Tinyhawk 2 – £120.00 (FPV Drone)
- JJRC X12 – £120.00
- DJI Tello – £100.00
- Cheerson CX10 – £30.00 (toy drone)
- Potensic A20 – £36.00 (toy drone)
Drones under 250 grams have become extremely popular here in the UK, mainly due to a few factors, they tend to be cheaper, more portable and possibly the main reason is that they have far less rules and restrictions imposed on them to be able to operate legally. There are some professional standard drones also available with high end cameras, collision sensors and other gizmos meaning that it is possible to start operating as a commercial pilot with a drone under 250g (provided you have an Operator ID, Flyer ID and relevant insurance cover).
Stratos Drones operates the DJI Mini 3 Pro, a sub 250g drone on a regular basis, producing some high quality photographs and video for our clients.