Video piloting (first-person view)
First-person view (FPV) flight is a type of remote-control flying that has grown in popularity in recent years. It involves mounting a small video camera and television transmitter on an RC aircraft and flying by means of a live video down-link, commonly displayed on video goggles or a portable LCD screen. When flying FPV, the pilot sees from the aircraft's perspective, and does not even have to look at the model. UK legal video transmitters operate at a frequency of 2.4GHz and 5.8GHz at a power level of 10mW and 25mW respectively.
A basic FPV system consists of a camera, video transmitter, video receiver, and a display. More advanced setups commonly add in specialised hardware, including on-screen displays with GPS navigation and flight data, stabilisation systems, and autopilot devices with "return to home" capability—allowing the aircraft to fly back to its starting point on its own in the event of signal loss. On-board cameras can be equipped with a pan and tilt mount, which when coupled with video goggles and "head tracking" devices creates a truly immersive, first-person experience, as if the pilot was actually sitting in the cockpit of the RC aircraft.
Helicopters, multi-rotors and fixed-wing RC aircraft are used for FPV flight. The most commonly chosen airframes for FPV planes are light weight foam models . Pusher-propeller planes are preferred so that the propeller is not in view of the camera. "Flying wing" designs are also popular for FPV, as they provide the best combination of large wing surface area, speed, manoeuvrability, and gliding ability. FPV aircraft are frequently used for aerial photography and videography.
Lawful First Person View RC Flying
Please note that operation of model aircraft out of the line of sight of either the pilot in charge, or the competent observer, where applicable, is unlawful, FPV pilots should also ensure that all equipment they use is legal for use in the UK, especially in relation to the operating frequency and power output.
First Person View (FPV) Model Aircraft
Our Article 16 Authorisation defines first person view aircraft as follows:
In First Person View operations the remote pilot flies the aircraft using images provided by cameras aboard the aircraft. When flying FPV the remote pilot cannot monitor the flight path in relation to other aircraft, persons, vehicles, vessels and structures for the purpose of avoiding collisions to the same extent as a remote pilot maintaining external direct, unaided visual contact with the aircraft.
Our Authorisation incorporates the terms of our existing FPV exemption, but also includes specific provision for FPV ‘drone racing’ which the BMFA had been discussing with the CAA for some time.
FPV Drone Racing
A model aircraft may be flown by a remote pilot using first person view subject to the terms of our Authorisation and provided that the aircraft is operated:
Within a sterile area – meaning a cordoned off, closed area that uninvolved persons are excluded from. (Uninvolved persons are those who are not participating in the UAS operation or who are not aware of the instructions and safety precautions given by the UAS operator).
The aircraft is not flown in excess of 160ft (50m) above the surface.
In accordance with procedures set out for the purpose of the event and in accordance with the instructions of the race director or other nominated person, including provision of a ‘terminate race and land immediately instruction.
Any observers are suitably briefed and aware of their responsibilities, including the monitoring of people or aircraft entering the sterile area.
Individual remote pilots do not require their own ‘competent’ observer when operating under this provision.
General FPV Flying
A model aircraft may be flown by a remote pilot using first person view subject to the terms of our Authorisation and provided that:
The remote pilot is accompanied by a competent observer who maintains direct unaided visual contact with the unmanned aircraft sufficient to monitor its flight path in relation to other aircraft, persons, vehicles, vessels and structures for the purpose of avoiding collisions and advises the remote pilot accordingly.
The MTOM of the aircraft does not exceed 3.5Kg.
The aircraft is only operated in the areas defined in the ‘Where can I fly’ section (6) above.
The aircraft is only operated in accordance with the ‘Separation Distances from Uninvolved Persons’ section (8) above. (Uninvolved persons are those who are not participating in the UAS operation or who are not aware of the instructions and safety precautions given by the UAS operator).
And the aircraft is not flown:
Within an aerodrome FRZ, unless appropriate permission has been obtained.
At a height of more than 1000ft above the surface, unless it is a rotorcraft with more than 1 lift generating rotor or propeller in which case the height shall not exceed 400ft above the surface.
Over or within 150m of any assemblies of people (Assemblies of people are gatherings where persons are unable to move away due to the density of the people present).
Within 50m of any vessel, vehicle or structure which is not under the control of the remote pilot.