9 Essential Tips for Traveling with a Drone in Ireland

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9 Essential Tips for Traveling with a Drone in Ireland and How to Avoid Persecution

Preparing to travel with a drone is a cultural journey itself as each government has its own regulation. The Small Unmanned Aircraft (Drones) and Rockets Order S.I. 563 of December 2015 has stated Ireland amongst one of the firsts trailblazers.  

The Federal Aviation Administration evaluated that 7 million drones will be flying on our skies by 2020. The world is getting ready and, more and more decrees are being set up. Some nations, like Ethiopia or Morocco, even adopted the full ban. Despite being a pioneer in terms of order, Ireland stays true to itself and remains one of the most enjoyable places to fly your wigged camera.

In Ireland, as anywhere, things can quickly go wrong and being prepared is the key to a successful journey. Over in Ireland has gathered all the necessary knowledge to avoid persecution (at the time of writing) and 9 Tips to Travel with your Drone.

How to Avoid Prosecution in Ireland?

Whether it is for recreational or commercial use, rules appear to be the same (as below) in Ireland.

You must register your drone online if its weight exceeds one kilo (2.2 pounds) but is under 25 kg (55.1 pounds), emptied tank (if flies with fuel) and equipment attached included. To do so, visit the Irish Aviation Authority website and start the process via the ASSET portal; a topographic mapping system that allows you to beware of every flying object in the sky, to locate your drone and shows the restricted and unauthorised areas. It will cost you €5 and will cover you for 2 years.

Any drone flying higher than 15 metres (49.2 feet) is legislatively required to get a certification as well. The weight does not matter here.

Anyone older than 16-year-old can fill up the online form. Younger than that, a legal guardian must take over.

You can record as many unmanned aircraft as you want.

The enrolment of all remote-controlled aircraft above 25 kilos (55 pounds) has to be done directly at the IAA Office.

How can I Contact the Irish Aviation Authority?

To contact the IAA

IAA Office County Dublin:

Call: +353 1 671 8655

Address: The Times Building, 11-12 D’Olier Street, Dublin 2

IAA Office County Clare:

Call: +353 61 770700

Address: Shannon Centre, Ballycasey Cross, Shannon

What are the Steps to Online Registration?

  • Create your account by filling up all the BOLD fields (as others are facultative), accept the terms and conditions and save. An email with a link, requesting you to generate a password, will be then sent. Once set, you’ve completed the first step.
  • The second will start after you log in. Click on the “Airspace” tab, select “Register Drone” under “RP A S-DRONE S,” on the left column: the Drone registry page will appear. Fill up the manufacturer details and agree again to the contractual rules. Once done, check on “My Drones” (under “RP A S-DRONE S”) should pop up. Your unique drone ID is created.
  • Then, send an email to JARUS Secretariat at contact@jarus-rpas.org. They’ll reply once the access is granted. Print your authorization.

Your awesome flying machine can legally fly above the Irish skies, but some rules still apply.

If you don’t register your drone and have An Garda Síochána (IAA agent) control, your equipment can be seized!

Are there any Mandatory Rules to Follow in Ireland?

As stated earlier, thanks to the ASSET portal, you can see all IAA data. The system combines Aerodrome, Airspace and NAV(igation)AID information while they are in operation. Knowing that, both for safety and privacy protections, there are 11 key rules to foolow. You CANNOT operate your drone when:

  • Out of sight. The first rule requires that you never lose visual contact with your aerial technology.
  • Over 300 metres (985 feet) farther from you.
  • Closer than 5km (3.1 miles) of an aerodrome.
  • Hazardous. The only thing you are to damage is your possession; do not get close to any other object soaring nearby yours. Those looking for some winged adrenaline should always keep a safe distance from people and private property.
  • Closer than 30 metres (98.5 feet) from someone, transportation or structure. Unless those elements are all under your control.
  • In controlled airspaces. This includes both military and civil skies.
  • There is a crowd. From concerts to parades, any form gathering cannot be filmed from the sky (unless private and authorised)
  • Over other populated areas such as cities or villages
  • In private lands, unless the owner allows you to both take-off and land on his grounds.
  • In restricted areas such as prisons or military grounds
  • Higher than 120 metres (400 feet)

What are the Steps to Operate Commercial flights?

  • First register (see above)
  • If you want to record shots on locations that encompass the above rules, you won’t need a permit. If you aim to film outside the mentioned limits, you will have to download and complete the form related to specific permissions.
  • Before the grant of any permit, you must attend a drone safety-training course and show your skills in one of the training facilities
  • Application to be done minimum 30 days prior starting date

Can I Fly my Drone Outside the Regulated Areas?

Yes, you can! To operate outside the listed guidelines, follow all the commercial steps listed above.

Are Insurances Compulsory in Ireland?

For recreational flights above the Eire skies, you don’t need to have insurance. However, we highly recommend you to get one, an accident can quickly happen. 

Commercial use, on the other side, necessitates a 3rd party liability insurance.

What if I Need to Hire a Drone Operator?

The IAA keeps a contact list of all agents operating within the country. To find this list, click here.

Can I Fly a Drone in Dublin?

If all the above rules are respected, you should be able to fly your drone. After multiple research, it seems that the possible locations are restricted some areas of the Liffey River and Sandymount Beach at low tide. The same case applies to any cities and villages.

Are there any Weather Restrictions?

As you must keep an eye on your drone at all times, you cannot fly your drone neither at night nor on foggy and cloudy days.

9 Tips to Travel with a Drone

A journey with a drone needs both mental and physical preparation. Luggage is heavier, setting up takes a lot of time, laws differ in each country plus, things can go wrong at any time. When “the” image is captured though, everything falls into place, and all the troubles go away.  

#1    Know your Regulations

First thing first: know the flying laws of the country you are about to visit. You are all covered for Ireland (at time of writing) now, but it is good to know that many nations, such as India, Cuba or even Antartica strictly ban the use of drones. They can be confiscated at the airport if not lawfully accepted or because of lack of legislation. You can’t do anything against it (except fly back home) so don’t forget to do your research!

#2    Tips for a Safe Departure

When purchasing such a valuable and expensive tool, you want to stack all the odds in your favour for it to reach the destination safely. A straightforward piece of advice: never put this baggage in the hold.

To save money, you often have to spend money; and buying a case is doubtlessly a worthy investment. In case something goes wrong, private insurances also cover from any damages.

Once you’ve completed the IAA registration steps, don’t forget to print out your proof of regulations as it might be requested (better be safe than sorry!)

Before planning any departure, you have to make sure the drone is in a secure container/ backpack, turned off and with a considerable memory card (You won’t get enough of Irish aerial shots!). We recommend you to remove the batteries while packing and put them in a separate box before scanning to avoid both lag and hassle when passing airport security.

Most drone batteries are lithium-based, a flammable element. If you take the risk to put your drone as checked baggage, you will have to keep your power units with you. As Ireland, most aviation laws prohibit from leaving them in the hold (check below).

#3    Battery

Another endorsed expenditure: power units. Drone battery lives do not last long and take a while to charge when plugged (40 to 80 minutes) fully.

Check with your airline for size, amount and watt-hour limitations. In Ireland (and Europe), it should not exceed 100Wh (2 grams). From 101Wh to 160Wh: your operator must grant you with authorisation. Higher capacities are not permitted. To measure the Wh, multiply the Voltage with the Ampere.

IAA laws also require you to pack them in individual compartments, as there are probabilities of court-circuits and ignition. Original packaging, plastic pouch or a case will do the trick. If you notice an abnormal reaction such as swelling, heat or fumes; please contact a crewmember immediately.

If renting or travelling by car, an auto inverter is a great alternative. Make sure you always sleep with one battery charged. It will avoid a lot of disappointment the next day.

Cold batteries work like human bodies, they need more energy to keep warm, and they find it within their own load. Keep them safe in a balmy place, so their lives do not diminish. Conversely, find a cool corner when the blazing sun, otherwise they will burn. Never leave them in a scorching car or at direct sunlight.

If your remote control works with your phone make sure it’s fully charged as well. Hard-core users, remember your power bank too.

#4    Repair Kit

Depending on the length of your journey, you might want to carry a repair kit and some spare parts (such as propellers). You never know what can go wrong! When assembling your fixing gear, make sure you are not carrying prohibited sharp items. Ireland strictly proscribes “tools with a blade or a shaft of more than 6 cm capable of use as a weapon, such as screwdrivers and chisels.

If so or unsure, put your toolbox as checked baggage.

#5    Freezing cold or burning hot: what to do?

The consequences of an overheated (or freezing) drone can result in disaster as it suddenly stops functioning, and can fall without warning or worst burn.

In 2018, Irish temperatures went as low as -7°C (19.4°F) and as high as 32°C (89.6°F). Typical flying performances range go from 0°C to 40°C (32°F to 104°F). If flying in a very hot (or frigid) weather, it is required to check the spectrum of degrees your drone can operate on. Fireproof bags are also available. We never know you might be visiting the Danakil Depression in Ethiopia, the hottest place on earth.

#6    Prepare your Drone to Take-off

Setting up a drone for the ideal flight conditions can be time-consuming when unprepared. Do some research on Google Earth/ Satellite to find both the right spot and your angle of approach. Don’t forget to track the sun direction and the weather. In Ireland, it rains most of the year, the driest periods occur during April, May and July. From mid-spring to the last month of summer, the sun is out for approximately 5.5 hours per day.

#7    Don’t Drink and Fly

Irish regulations might not state it literally, but its law forbids flying your drone when under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Like any vehicle commanded when intoxicated, you won’t have full control, and you’ll inevitably be a hazard to others.

#8    What about the Wind?

All year long, the winds are omnipotent in the northern areas of Ireland. The rest of the country have stronger air currents from late autumn to early spring. Powerful gales can swipe away your wigged camera or worst, hurt someone or an animal. When so, even experienced pilots should travel light and leave their drone in a safe environment.

It is highly advised to train (a lot) and have full control before flying your drone on weaker winds (or in general).   

#9    Don’t forget you’re in a Wild Territory

As raised previously, humans and material are protected from any casualties by law. Let’s use our common sense to remember our beautiful wildlife and avoid hurting them. Keep in mind that you are entering a bird territory where an adjacent drone is definitely a threat. Large feathered creatures won’t hesitate to strike if you get too close.

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