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Environment awareness, risk and safety

Environment awareness, risk and safety#

When flying, it’s crucial to stay aware of your surroundings, your UAV, and yourself. It’s important to have a good understanding of your situation and be able to predict events based on your perception of the environment. This allows you to manage risks and stay safe throughout your flight.

Before taking off to fly over an outcrop, it’s important to review the safety measures outlined in your flight plan to ensure they are in place:

  • Perfect physical and mental health of the pilot.

  • Inspect the local weather conditions, keeping in mind that weather forecasts are not always accurate and that local weather patterns like valley winds can occur.

  • Check for people, animals, traffic, power lines etc.

Wildlife disturbance

Birds can build their nests on cliffs and vertical outcrops. If you fly a UAV near a bird nesting area, it can cause disturbance and be perceived as an attack, resulting in the birds dive-bombing the UAV and potentially causing it to crash. Remember that it is forbidden to disturb the wildlife on Svalbard. Avoid these kinds of situations by steering clear of bird colonies when flying your UAV. If you spot birds flying near your UAV, it is best to cancel the flight to ensure their safety.

  • Review your planned takeoff and landing locations. Ensure that there’s enough space available in case of an emergency landing.

  • Check for any potential hazards that may not have been identified during your initial safety review and adjust your flight plan accordingly.


Fig. 49 Flying drones in the field.#

Human factors#

Before taking a flight, it is important to consider the human factor which can limit and affect the safety of the flight. The human factor can be categorized into two aspects:

  • General health

  • Influence of psychoactive substances or alcohol.

I’M SAFE methodology

  • I - Illness: Colds, allergies, and other illnesses can lead to issues like eye irritation or headaches, which can ultimately impact the safety of the flight. To ensure safety, pilots must evaluate their physical fitness before flying. They should only fly if they feel well enough to do so without risking the safety of the operation.

  • M - Medication: If ill, the pilot must assess whether the medication they take may have any negative impact on their mental or physical abilities that could compromise the safety of the flight.

  • S - Stress: When flying as a remote pilot, a moderate level of stress can actually be beneficial by keeping one alert to potentially hazardous situations. However, excessive stress can negatively impact behavior and reaction times. To ensure safe flights, it’s important for remote pilots to recognize and assess their own personal threshold for stress and avoid exceeding it.

  • A - Alcohol: Drinking alcohol or using psychoactive substances before flying a UAS is not recommended. These substances can impair the brain, sight, hearing, motor skills, and judgment of the pilot, all of which are crucial for a safe flight.

  • F - Fatige: Managing fatigue among pilots can be challenging since it affects individuals differently. Therefore, each pilot must be aware of their fatigue limitations and ensure they do not exceed them before or during a flight. Factors such as sleep deprivation, time changes, jet lag, and night operations can contribute to pilot fatigue.

  • E - Emotions: Before flying, the pilot should assess their mental state to ensure stability. While emotions can typically be controlled, they may resurface under stress.

Privacy and data protection#

Privacy is considered a fundamental human right in Europe, which means that everyone has the right to keep certain aspects of their lives private. This includes personal relationships, information that is sensitive or embarrassing, and one’s home.

When flying a UAS that is equipped with cameras or microphones, it is crucial to take precautions to ensure that the privacy of others is not violated. The impact of using a UAS on the privacy of individuals is not only determined by its capabilities, but also by factors such as the operator’s purpose, the type of information captured, how it is used, who is operating the UAS, and the location where it is being used. It is essential to be mindful of these considerations when using a UAS to avoid infringing on someone’s privacy.


Any privacy intrusion is illegal.


Can a person be recorded or photographed in their private life?

It is not permitted to record or take pictures of individuals without their express permission, especially if they can be easily identified. Please refrain from doing so.

Can you take pictures of people in public areas?

Always ask for permission before taking someone’s photo, even in public areas. Avoid focusing solely on someone in a photo captured by a UAS. Remember that everyone has a right to privacy.

Can a video or image sequence be recorded in a public place with people?

It’s okay if someone briefly appears in a video recorded in a public place, but it’s not okay to intentionally target and record them without their consent.

Data protection#

Data protection is a crucial aspect of privacy as it safeguards personal information, which includes any data, images, or audio that pertains to an identified or identifiable individual. A person can be identified directly through their face or indirectly through means such as their car license plate or location. Identifiability can also be established through various factors such as identification number, online identification, and physical, psychological, genetic, mental, economic, or cultural traits.

Accidents and incidents#

An accident is any event that occurs between the time the UAV is ready to take off until the engines are turned off at the end of the flight, and during which a person suffers serious injury or death from direct contact with any part of the UAV.

An incident, is any event related to the use of the UAV that affects or has the potential to affect its safety, but does not result in serious injury or death.


If an accident or incident occurs, the operator or remote pilot will be held responsible.