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The use of drones in University activities is widespread, and constantly increasing.   Their uses include aerial filming and inspection work – for example, marketing (aerial photography), surveys (building roofs, tall chimneys) - and research activities (including land and water surveys in Geography projects). These devices clearly have enormous potential, but there are a number of regulatory, safety and privacy issues that must be addressed before staff or students construct and/or operate them, or engage a third party to do so.


All drone operators and pilots must register with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and obtain either an Operator ID, a Flyer ID or both.  The legal requirements place duties on the following people:

Operator: An Operator is responsible for ensuring that only those with a Flyer ID use their drone or UAV – this responsibility will lie with a Manager or Principal Investigator within the University.  An Operator (i.e. the manager or PI of a group using drones) must register for an Operator ID.  All drones under the control of that Operator must be labelled with this Operator ID.

 Flyer: A flyer is the pilot of the drone or UAV.  A Flyer must sit an online theory test and obtain a Flyer ID. Flyers must only fly drones that have been labelled with an Operator ID.

Registration details for Operators and Flyers can be found here.   

The University Policy on the Safe Use of Drones outlines the requirements for drone use on or off campus.  Please note there is no longer a requirement to notify individual drone flights to Safety Services.  Flights should be managed by the relevant College/School or area of Professional Services.

 If you have any queries please email drones@contacts.bham.ac.uk

This webpage provides links to University policy and guidance, sample risk assessments, articles and links of interest.  A comprehensive overview of the law and Civil Aviation Authority requirements can be found in the Drone and Model Aircraft Code.  There is guidance on safe flying distances in the CAA Dronesafe Drone Code.

Sample documentation

Risk Assessments

Here are some examples of risk assessments for drone flights.  The content is meant as a general guide to the types of hazard that may need to be considered when planning a drone flight and is NOT exhaustive.  They refer to the use of Standard Operating Procedures, which should be drawn up for drone flights and which should provide detailed information on the operation of the drone.

Example Drone Flight Risk assessment - Hooe Lake

Example Drone Flight Risk assessment - USAR Lincolnshire

Example Drone Flight Risk assessment - Haytor and Quarries

Useful website links

Civil Aviation Authority

CAP 393: The Air Navigation Order 2016 (ANO) and Regulations
Civil Aviation Authority CAP 398 

CAP 722: Unmanned Aircraft System Operations in UK Airspace – Guidance
Civil Aviation Authority CAP 722

No Fly Zones for Drones in the UK
No Fly Zones for Drones, UK

Links for Data Protection:
CCTV Code of Practice
University Data Protection Policy
ICO guidance on unmanned aerial systems (UAS)


Professional Services