Frequently asked questions
Are you licensed?
Our pilots have completed specialist commercial drone training and hold commercial drone pilot permissions awarded by the Civil Aviation Authority that comply with the Air Navigation Order.
CAA unmanned aerial vehicle regulations can be found here.
Where do you operate?
Levitate Aerial is based in Claygate, Surrey, so most of our work is focused in Surrey and neighbouring areas including west, south and south-West London, Hampshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire – but do get in touch if you’re further afield as we’re happy to travel.
Does the weather impact when you fly?
Drone electronics don’t react well to water, so we don’t fly in the rain, while windspeeds also have to be below 20mph.
We also need to maintain direct line of sight with the drone, so if visibility is poor flights may be restricted.
Are there any restrictions on how far or high you can fly?
The Civil Aviation Authority Air Navigation Order 2016 restricts drones to a maximum height above ground of 400ft or roughly 120m. This is higher than St Paul’s Cathedral and about the same as the London Eye, so provides plenty of scope to capture highly detailed photos and videos.
In comparison, helicopters are not permitted below 500ft, so drones can reach parts traditional aerial photographers can only dream of!
The drone pilot must also maintain visual line of sight contact, which means a maximum distance of 500m from their position (although most operations are conducted at closer range).
The high definition drone camera feeds images directly back to the pilot to aid navigation, identification and avoidance of risks.
What permissions are needed?
Commercial drones are not permitted to operate within 50m of people, vehicles or buildings out of the pilot’s control, though we can take off and land within 30m. Drones are allowed to fly over people, vehicles and buildings at a height of at least 50m, however.
Drones are also not permitted to fly within 150m of open-air gatherings with more than 999 people.
Before agreeing a flight we will conduct a risk assessment and obtain necessary permissions, including landowner permission for take-off and landing along with checking land boundaries.
Our initial assessment also includes identifying if extra Civil Aviation Authority and Air Traffic Control permissions are required, for instance in congested urban areas or restricted airspace.
For each flight we will work with you develop a flight plan that meets your requirements while maintaining safety, regulatory and legal compliance (see What we need from you).
Are any areas off limits to drones?
In the UK restricted airspace is mainly found around airports and military bases, while central London also requires further National Air Traffic Service (NATS) permission.
What safety measures/processes do you have?
Levitate Aerial Imaging is fully insured and qualified to operate commercial drones, and we follow closely all Civil Aviation Authority advice and regulations.
Prior to every flight we conduct a detailed site survey and risk assessment and develop a flight plan that complies with all restrictions and permissions.
If there is any concern about the safety of a flight we will discuss it with you to try and come up with a suitable solution, however we retain the right to postpone the flight until the issues are resolved. Common safety risks include public (or animal) ingress into flight operation areas.
Our drones have a number of inbuilt safety systems, including a ‘return to home’ function which automatically returns the drone to its point of take-off even if there is signal interference, failure of the pilot’s control system or in an emergency. The drone will also land itself safely if the battery charges goes below a certain level.
Are you insured?
Yes, Levitate has comprehensive insurance through a specialist commercial drone operator insurance provider.
Do privacy regulations apply?
Privacy and Civil Aviation Authority regulations apply to commercial drone operators taking photos and videos. We are not permitted to operate within 50m of people, vehicles or buildings out of the pilot’s control, though we can take off and land within 30m.
Drones are allowed to fly over people, vehicles and buildings at a height of at least 50m, however. Drones are also not permitted to fly within 150m of open-air gatherings of a 1,000 people or more.
We will work with you to ensure that the flight plan complies with all applicable laws, so do get in touch to discuss.