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Flying a Drone in Ireland & Working With Drones in Controlled Airspaces

Many people are aware of the usefulness of drones in business and industry. However, many restrictions exist on where drones can be flown and used. All airspace users have a responsibility to comply with the rules and regulations of the Irish Aviation Authority to ensure safety, privacy, and compliance with the law. This is especially true when it comes to operating drones in controlled airspace.


Why Are There Flight Restrictions for Flying a Drone in Ireland?

The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) imposes regulations to govern the operation of drones in the country. This is because drones can be used for malicious reasons, such as espionage, acquiring confidential information, or carrying out attacks. Regulating and restricting certain areas protects individuals and organisations from such intrusions and helps mitigate these security risks by controlling where drones can operate and imposing limitations on their capabilities.

Drones equipped with cameras can potentially invade individuals’ privacy if flown over private property or in areas where people expect privacy. Regulations aim to protect individuals’ privacy rights and prevent unauthorised surveillance. Additionally, certain areas, such as nature reserves or wildlife habitats, may have restrictions to prevent disturbance to wildlife or environmental damage.



Flying a Drone in Ireland

Almost all of County Dublin is covered by multiple airspace classifications, from Class C to military; Dublin is a hive of activity. There are many no-fly zones and prohibited zones around Dublin, from airports to hospitals to foreign embassies to prisons. 

No Fly Zones, as you might have guessed, are areas where drones cannot be flown without prior permission and only by Specific Category Permissions holders. One of the biggest and least apparent No Fly Zones is Phoenix Park, and due to the number of sensitive buildings within the park, it is almost entirely covered by an NFZ.  

Alongside NFZ is Class C airspace. Drones can now be used up to 30m/90m (depending on location) above ground level (AGL) in these areas without ATC clearance. Beyond that, you need a Specific Category Operational Authorisation to apply for permission. Being granted permission for flying a drone in Ireland is not a given; you need to use and work with ATC to complete the mission.

A silhouette of a drone flying near an airport with a no drone sign in the foreground


Classification of Airspace For Drones

Airspace is divided up based on Classes; The most considerable controlled airspace in the country is, not surprisingly, in and around Dublin. It’s crucial to check the specific regulations in your country before drone flying. 

The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) is responsible for classifying airspace following international rules. They also establish Temporary Restricted Areas and set standards for instrument flight procedures. For drone pilots and others using the airspace, it’s important to be aware of these classifications and comply with the regulations that apply to each class to ensure safety and coordination when flying a drone in Ireland.

According to General Aviation Safety in Ireland, the airspace in Ireland is predominantly composed of Class C and G, where air traffic control manages all flights, ensuring protection for all flights operating under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR):

Class C Airspace Drone Operating: In this controlled airspace, every flight is under the jurisdiction of air traffic control services, which ensures a safe distance is maintained between aircraft. Flights operating under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) have protection in this zone.

Class G Airspace Drone Operating: This airspace is categorised as uncontrolled, meaning that air traffic control services are only available upon request by a pilot. Typically, it is utilised for local flights that adhere to Visual Flight Rules (VFR).


Failure to comply with airspace restrictions and regulations can result in fines, legal consequences, or endangerment to the safety of aviation and the public.


Do These Restrictions Apply to Hobbyist Drone Users?

Hobbyist drone users may have more flexibility in obtaining permissions or authorisations for certain types of drone flying compared to commercial operators. However, they are still required to follow the rules and regulations from the IAA, including registering their drones (if applicable), maintaining line-of-sight during flights, respecting privacy and property rights, and ensuring the safety of their operations.

Hobbyists must familiarise themselves with the relevant regulations and airspace classes before flying their drones to avoid legal issues or fines.


What Are Temporary Airspace Restrictions?

Temporary Airspace Restrictions (TARs) are measures that temporarily limit aircraft operations in the aerospace industry, including drone flying, within a specified area of airspace for safety or security reasons. These restrictions may be put in place for various reasons, such as VIP movements, air shows, emergency operations, or other critical events.

Drone operators need to stay informed about any TARs that may affect their planned flights when flying a drone in Ireland. It is important to check for updates on temporary restrictions in the airspace before flying your drone to ensure compliance with regulations and avoid any potential hazards. It is always better to be prepared and informed when operating drones in controlled airspaces.



The Legality of Flying Drones Over Private Property

In Ireland, flying drones over private property is generally acceptable; however, drone pilots are obligated to navigate with care, respect the well-being, privacy, and property rights of individuals, and comply with applicable laws to guarantee that their flights are lawful and do not infringe upon or disrupt others.

If you are flying a drone in Ireland over private property, whilst not exactly illegal, drone operators still have to ensure that their drone flying does not cause harm or intrusion over someone else’s property. It is important to avoid capturing images or footage of people on private property without their consent, especially if the images or footage could be considered intrusive or invasive.

In Ireland, drone pilots must comply with the Irish Aviation Authority’s (IAA) operational requirements, which require that manned aircraft keep a safe distance from individuals and structures, operate the drone within the pilot’s direct field of vision, and ensure the drone flight is steered clear of restricted zones like airports and state facilities.


Contact Our Professional Drone Service in Ireland

At Drone Services Ireland, we specialise in working in the controlled airspace in Dublin, where we complete most of our work. Our commercial drone operators are well-versed in the regulations and requirements for flying drones in controlled airspaces. 

We have experience working with ATC to obtain the necessary permissions and authorisations for our operations, ensuring that we can conduct our drone services safely and legally in Dublin. We have many years of working in cohesion with drone regulations in Ireland to ensure that our operations are safe and do not put individuals at risk.

If you are looking for a professional drone service in Ireland that can navigate the complexities of controlled airspaces and provide high-quality aerial imagery or data collection, call us today!


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