Have you ever wanted to bring your drone with you on a flight but didn't know how? Would you want to fly a drone in this country but are worried about what the airline rules say?
Drones are fast becoming the go-to travel gadget for keen photographers and adventure seekers alike who are keen to capture the beauty of their surroundings from unique, aerial perspectives and share the experience and memories with family and friends back at home. But not all airlines are as drone-friendly. What you might have imagined being an easy trip with a quick drone trip from one place to another is likely to become a lot more complicated.
Well, that depends on the country. Some countries have clear, established drone laws, many others don't, or their existing regulations haven't been updated in recent years. To fly a drone on an airline flight, you'll need to check the airline’s policy as well as that of your country or city of destination.
Before entering airport terminals, you must pass through airport security. Most places have specific drone regulations set by their country's national or civil aviation authority. In the United States, drone regulations are set by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA); in Canada, they're set by TCCA. By identifying the civil aviation authority in the country you're travelling to, you can learn about the drone laws in that specific country.
Unlike other items, drones don't pose a big security risk. However, the U.S Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has the discretion to deny a drone through, so don't be surprised if your plane is turned down if you've brought a drone along. While it's not illegal to bring a drone, there are still some restrictions. You'll need to pack the batteries in a special way.
Some travelling airlines will require you to register your drone in order to fly it. It's important to know the regulations for flying your drone because these laws can change anytime and anywhere. To be sure, you can follow the airline's drone policy by checking the policy before you fly. Most airlines allow you to bring your drone. You can also check with your travel agent to find out which restrictions may apply to your specific airline.
When travelling with a drone, be sure to keep it powered down and in an OFF position. You can also protect the battery from accidental damage by wrapping it in protective gear or a hard case. If you're flying internationally with your drone, be sure to check the rules for your specific airline. For example, American Airlines allows drones with up to 100Wh of battery capacity in their hand luggage, so it's important to check your airline's policy before you fly.
Before you travel with your drone, check the airline's policies for drone-related items. Some allow drones to be taken on board while others prohibit them altogether. Some airlines have special rules about whether to pack your drone in your carry-on baggage or checked baggage. Some of the airlines impose these rules due to the U.S Department of Transportation's ban on transporting lithium-ion batteries in cargo compartments of passenger aeroplanes. So, always keep your drone with you as carry-on luggage to prevent it from being damaged during loading and unloading, and to ensure that the crew can deal with any battery fires quickly and efficiently.
Lithium-ion (LIPO) batteries are the norm for most drones, so it's important that you be aware of hazardous material regulations in each country. If you're travelling with LIPO batteries, be sure to protect them from short-circuits. One way to do this is by putting the batteries in their retail packaging provided by the manufacturer, taping over the battery terminals, or using a battery case.
You should also consider the size of the batteries you're bringing. If your drone has a battery power rating of over 100Wh, you're allowed to bring only 2 spares with you on your flight, but you'll need airline approval first. 160Wh is the maximum acceptable power rating for air transport, so if your drone has a bigger battery, it'll need to be shipped as fully regulated cargo. Smaller drones tend to have batteries with less than 100-watt hours, but it's important to verify the watt-hours of your specific batteries for air travel. To determine watt-hours, multiply the volts by the ampere-hours (Wh = V x Ah).
Batteries that use lithium-ion cells must meet the requirements set out by the UN Manual of Tests and Criteria in order to be transported by air. If your battery doesn't meet these requirements, it may not be safe to fly, and you could be prosecuted if something goes wrong. Be sure to let the airline and boarding personnel know you're carrying a drone with lithium batteries.
Drones must be kept a safe distance away from airports to avoid any potential collisions and safety hazards. Flying drones within one kilometre of an airport boundary is illegal, and pilots must remain in the line of sight and within 500 metres of the drone. Breaking these rules can result in an unlimited fine, up to five years in prison, or both.
If you were to accidentally hit a drone, the consequences could be disastrous. A heavy drone colliding with your aircraft at high speed could cause significant damage most likely from a 90-degree impact. One potential hazard of drones is when they are sucked into a jet engine. This can cause far more damage than a bird strike. So it's best to avoid any situation where a collision could occur.
The risk of drones to aeroplanes is not only from collisions but also from radio frequency interference. If this happens, pilots can lose control of the plane, resulting in a crash.
To conclude, remember that a well-informed traveller is a safe traveller. By understanding the requirements of your airline and national and local aviation authority, you can avoid any delays or complications when bringing your drone along on your trip. Knowing the right steps to take will help keep your drone safe and secure while you're on the go because you wouldn't want your drone to be confiscated, don't you?