Drone Safety Guidelines

Follow laws and best practices to steer clear of turbulence

Flying drones can be a fun and useful activity. These remote-controlled aircraft can zip from place to place and hover hundreds of feet above the ground. And, when equipped with video cameras, drones can provide sweeping, bird’s-eye footage of a church building or a ministry activity.

Drones also come with risks. There have been many cases of drones interfering with larger aircraft. Single-drone crashes can cause property damage and injuries, despite the aircraft generally being lightweight.

There are several steps church leaders can take to minimize liability when using drones:

  • Only allow trained operators to use drones on church property. Trained, experienced “pilots” tend to know the capabilities and limitations of their aircraft. They also should follow drone safety procedures. These precautions can help prevent accidents.
  • Establish no-fly zones. A drone falling on people or property could cause injuries and property damage. Avoid flying too close to people, buildings, cars, overhead power lines, and other utility wires. Keep ministry-approved flights on church property.
  • Follow all applicable laws. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules prohibit drone flights near airports and require most drones to be registered before being flown outdoors. Drones are subject to additional regulations when used for commercial purposes, such as videography. State laws may apply to drone use, as well. Violating these regulations can result in heavy fines and other penalties. Consult with a locally licensed attorney and make sure all drone flights on your property follow all applicable laws.
  • Address privacy concerns. If using a drone for video purposes, be mindful of the privacy issues that come along with photo and video use. Avoid using video that identifies individuals, unless the individual gives written permission to do so.

Safety procedures and regulations are frequently changing as drones continue to surge in popularity. If your ministry uses these aircraft, or allows others to fly on church property, encourage safety by following best practices and applicable laws.

Additional Resource