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Travelling with the drone

In today's globalized era characterized by ubiquitous technology, you can take a breathtaking photo one moment and share it with loved ones thousands of miles away the next. Drones greatly expand the possibilities of taking pictures and filming, so who would want to leave them at home?

We pack the drone on the plane

Batteries

Like most small electronics - mobile phones, smart watches, laptops, wireless headphones, power banks, e-cigarettes etc., drones also contain lithium batteries (Li-Ion or Li-Po), which can be potentially dangerous. For this reason, airlines regulate the conditions under which it is allowed to travel with a drone. It is advisable to check the information on the specific airline's website before each flight. For most airlines, the following applies:

  • Lithium batteries up to 100 Wh may be taken on board or in hand luggage up to 20 pcs. per person
  • Lithium batteries from 100 to 160 Wh need a permit to be carried on the aircraft.
  • Lithium batteries above 160 Wh are not allowed on aircraft at all.

You can calculate the battery capacity yourself.
(Volts) x Ah (Ampere hours) = Wh (Watthours)
So for example for the DJI Mavic Air: 11.5 V x 2375 mAh (2.375 Ah) = 27,43 Wh

Best practice

The vast majority of personal electronics mentioned above, including drones, contain batteries with a battery life of less than 100 Wh. We therefore recommend separating the propellers from the drone in advance, placing them in your checked baggage as objects with sharp edges, and packing the drone body and the removed batteries safely in your hand luggage. Specially designed battery bags can be used to protect both the batteries themselves and the surrounding environment (from possible ignition).

During the inspection, the drone body and batteries must be removed from the hand luggage and placed in the crate together with other electronics. It is better to inform the security check staff about the presence of batteries, so you can avoid possible explanations.

However, there are exceptions to these rules. Some airlines, especially those in the USA but also Emirates, for example, do not allow the carriage of a drone in cabin baggage and require that the electronics and battery (only up to 100 Wh) be left in the baggage compartment. When travelling with other carriers, in such a situation you would likely be asked to remove the batteries and move them to your cabin baggage. Another exception to the above is the rules for travelling with drones on Ryanair, which allows devices with batteries of up to 160 Wh to be carried in the cabin.

We travel the world with a drone

As tempting as drone travel sounds, not all popular destinations welcome drones with open arms. In some countries they are completely prohibited from entering, somewhere it is forbidden to even own a drone, and thirdly, in some countries they can confiscate your drone right after arrival.

The rules applicable in each country can be found on the following websites, as well as on e.g. (Google maps, DronRules, JARUS, ICAO, DronRegulation, UAVCoach, DroneMade, Drone traveller). However, some of the information is not entirely accurate, so we always recommend checking the rules with the specific authority - the Civil Aviation Authority of the country concerned.

In most cases, at least one of the following 3 approaches to flying with unmanned systems can be expected:

1The state has not published rules for drones

The state has not issued rules directly for drones and flying itself is not restricted in any way. Despite this, the experienced traveller must be careful about what he intends to do with his drone. There are not only rules attached to drones about how high to fly, but also those that specify, for example, the protection of privacy or other objects or buildings. Thus, with a drone equipped with a camera, flying over military objects or flying over a police officer or soldier in a country without specific rules for the flight itself can be a problem. If we consider the whole world, this variant will probably include the most countries.

2Rules for flying drones are regulated or partially regulated in the country.

Essentially, it is a set of rules that must be followed but are not set out in a specific aviation law or regulation. Currently, approximately 25% of the states on our planet regulate drones.

3The rules for drones do not allow their operation.

If you don't intend to research the opinions of specific aviation authorities in detail, we recommend you at least keep aware of the countries where drone flights are prohibited - in particular Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt, which is one of the countries where it is not even allowed to own a drone.

4The rules are clearly established and the operation of drones is regulated.

It is true that there are uniform harmonised rules in the European Union, but at the moment these may be regulated in different ways by individual Member States. Even if you are planning to fly with one of our neighbours, it is advisable to check the rules there.

In the US, the so-called Part 107, a regulation on small UAS, was published in 2016, which sets the maximum flight height at 120 metres above the ground, the same as in the EU.

A US specific system is LAANC, which enables authorization of flights using an app. The application publishes grids defining zones for low-altitude drone flights.

In aviation, "safety first" always applies. In our experience, when travelling, we recommend refraining from flying in big cities, over crowds in general, whether in city centres or on beaches. Also take extra care around buildings that could fall under the jurisdiction of national security forces and, of course, do not fly near airports.