RULES OF THE DRONE ZONE

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - - Technology | Photography - JEN­NIFER DUD­LEY-NI­CHOL­SON

Noth­ing el­e­vates your hol­i­day snaps – lit­er­ally and fig­u­ra­tively – quite like us­ing a drone. From tak­ing pho­tos of the whole is­land on which you stayed to cap­tur­ing waves crash­ing from above, or even snap­ping a “dronie”, these in­creas­ingly so­phis­ti­cated fly­ing ma­chines can record stun­ning pho­to­graphs you would oth­er­wise miss. But tak­ing your drone over­seas with you is more com­pli­cated than merely leav­ing space for it in a back­pack.

Each coun­try has its own laws for tak­ing footage from above, and you might get a rude shock at the air­port or when you land if you haven’t re­searched how to cor­rectly pack or de­clare your ae­rial gad­get.

In Fiji, for ex­am­ple, ar­riv­ing pas­sen­gers have all their bags scanned for drones be­fore leav­ing the air­port. Po­ten­tial pi­lots are asked to fill in reg­is­tra­tion forms.

So what do you need to know be­fore you fly?

The big­gest con­cern about drones for air­lines is their bat­ter­ies. Drones use high-den­sity lithium poly­mer bat­ter­ies, which must be car­ried in your hand lug­gage rather than checked into the plane’s hold.

Bat­ter­ies with more than 160 watt hours can­not fly with you, and any bat­ter­ies more pow­er­ful than 100Wh can be re­stricted (Qan­tas will only let you carry two, for ex­am­ple).

As a guide, bat­ter­ies for DJI’s lat­est Mavic 2 drones are rated at 59Wh and are safe to pack in your carry-on bag.

Some air­lines also re­quire pas­sen­gers to place tape on the metal ter­mi­nals of spare bat­ter­ies, and carry them in sep­a­rate plas­tic bags or in­su­lated pouches. When you ar­rive at your des­ti­na­tion, how­ever, fol­low­ing the rules can be­come much more chal­leng­ing.

In Aus­tralia, drone laws al­low recre­ational fly­ers to cap­ture pho­to­graphs from up to 120m in the air as long as they are 30m away from peo­ple, in day­light, within sight of the pi­lot, and 5.5km away from air­ports.

How­ever, these rules vary over­seas. In Fiji, Sin­ga­pore and Tai­wan, drones are only al­lowed to fly up to 60m in the air. In Italy, drones must re­main un­der the 70m mark, in Canada the height re­stric­tion is 90m, and Ger­man drones can only as­cend to 100m to take pho­to­graphs.

Some coun­tries even re­quire drone pi­lots regis­ter their fly­ing ma­chines, and fail­ing to do so could end in a fine. In Peru, for ex­am­ple, you must de­clare your drone at cus­toms and pay a re­fund­able tax based on the value of your de­vice.

In the United States, drone fly­ers must regis­ter with the Fed­eral Avi­a­tion Au­thor­ity, and tourists in Egypt must ob­tain per­mis­sion from the coun­try’s Civil Avi­a­tion Au­thor­ity be­fore tak­ing to the skies.

In ad­di­tion, there are 15 coun­tries where fly­ing a drone is banned out­right, in­clud­ing Mo­rocco, Bar­ba­dos, Cuba and Mada­gas­car, so it’s al­ways a good idea to make sure you read up on the rules of your des­ti­na­tion be­fore pack­ing. A COM­PRE­HEN­SIVE LIST CAN BE FOUND AT UAVCOACH.COM/DRONE-LAWS

A drone cap­tures the full beauty of El Nido Palawan in the Philip­pines. AE­RIAL SNAP PIC­TURE: ISTOCK

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