Drone photos and videos are amazing, aren’t they? As intimidating as it may seem, flying a drone is easier than you think. The hard part here is to play by the rules and not get yourself into trouble. Luckily, we’ve done the work for you and summarised all the things you need to know before taking your drone out for a tour around town.
Things you need to know
What are the restricted areas?
You should never fly your drone over populated and congested areas. On top of that, your drone should not be flown over, or close to, any object, installation or facility that would present a risk to safety in the event of damage due to any impact caused by the drone.
The drone should also not be flown near an airport and aircraft approach and take-off paths, which include:
- Areas within 5km of Hong Kong International Airport
- North Lantau coastal area
- Coastal areas from Tai Lam Chung to Tsuen Wan and Tsing Yi Island
- Victoria Harbour and its coastal areas
- Shek Kong area
What areas are good for flying?
A wide expanse of clear space is ideal and safe. It is a no brainer that you should always maintain visual contact with the drone at all times while in flight. Before setting off to your destination, make sure the area is:
- Clear of vessels, vehicles or structures
- Away from helicopter landing pads
- Clear of any power sources such as power lines, transformer stations, pylons, and transmitter towers, which might cause radio interference
- Flat enough to enable safe take-off and landing
Read more: Best places to fly your drone in Hong Kong
How high can I fly my drone?
It can be tempting to fly your drone high and catch scenic views like no other, but to ensure your little aircraft won’t get in the way of air traffic, you should not fly your drone more than 300 feet, which is around 90 metres, above ground level.
When can I fly my drone?
You can only fly your drone during daytime. Just like doing any outdoor activities, you should check weather conditions before heading out. Drones should only be operated under good visibility and weather conditions. If there is a rainstorm warning, tropical cyclone warning or strong monsoon signal in effect, you should keep your drone at home and leave it for your next voyage.
Is there any weight limit for my drone?
If you’re flying just for fun and that your drone weighs less than 7kg excluding the fuel, there’s no need to acquire permission. However, if the drone is flying for a commercial purpose, or if it exceeds 7kg excluding the fuel, you are required to submit an application to the Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department (HKCAD).
Whenever you’re taking the drone out for a flight, you should be on site and keep the drone within Visual Line of Sight (VLOS). Operating within VLOS means that you are able to maintain direct, unaided (other than corrective lenses) visual contact with the drone, and are able to monitor the flight path in relation to other aircraft, vessels, vehicles and structures to avoid any collisions.
It is also important to always check on your aircraft before flying to ensure safe and smooth flying. Make sure to perform a safety check on your drone, including fuel levels or lithium batteries before touring around the city.
For more detailed regulations, please refer to General Safety Guidelines for Flying Unmanned Aircraft Systems issued by HKCAD.
Where to get a drone in Hong Kong
Founded in 2006, DJI is the most heard name in the drone world. The futuristic brand features gears that cater different level of pilots, from consumer to professional usages. There you’ll find big names like its Phantom, Mavic and Spark Series, which include compact and portable drones with unbeatable image quality. Besides paying a visit to the DJI flagship store in Hong Kong, you can also find its products in Fortress.
DJI, Tower 535, G07, 535 Jaffe Road, Causeway Bay, 2639 3122
FlyCamHK has a strong background of providing UAS solutions and trainings to its clients. Its retail shop offers one-stop aerial equipment and technical support services, featuring world-known brand names and even gears at discounted prices. Its technical team of experienced and certified drone pilots can cater to the needs of all aerial enthusiasts, from entry to professional level.
FlyCamHK, Unit D, 15/F, V GA Building, 532 Castle Peak Road, Lai Chi Kok, 3741 2006
For a quick fix, you can also visit Apple store for drones and accessories. Though the variety is limited and only includes DJI products, you can get a drone with just about a thousand dollars. Visit its online store or drop by the closest outlet for more details.
Apple, multiple locations including L1 & L2, IFC Mall, 8 Finance Street, Central, 3972 1500
Feature image courtesy of @will_tm via Instagram