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fly a drone directly over a crowd

Can I Fly A Drone Over A Crowd?

Flying a drone is fun and exciting. However, drone novices need to know that flying a drone over a crowd is not something that is easily allowed. In most cases, you cannot fly a drone directly over a crowd.

Why can't a drone fly over people?

Perhaps in the eyes of drone photographers, a drone flying quickly over people is a thrilling and meaningful video clip, but in fact, it is very dangerous.

For airspace regulators, a high-speed drone will be very dangerous if it loses control, falls in the air, or loses its direction and flies around. The high-speed rotation of the propeller is very lethal and very dangerous for crowded areas.

Therefore, in most cases, flying a drone over a crowd is strictly restricted or even prohibited. This is to ensure the safety of the crowd and avoid possible accidental injuries.

Under what circumstances can I fly over a crowd?

Some common drone regulatory restrictions, such as not being able to fly out of sight and not flying more than 400 feet. Flying over a crowd also requires an approved exemption.

  • In order to fly a drone over a crowd, you must obtain approval from the relevant authorities and obtain an exemption for flying over people.
  • The drone pilot needs to be directly involved in the drone operation and not leave the drone in smart flight mode to avoid losing control.
  • When flying the drone over a crowd, make sure the vertical height from the crowd is high enough, and the crowd is preferably under a covered building or protected in a fixed vehicle.
  • Prop protection device: This will solve the problem of cuts.
  • Anti-collision lights: Your drone must be equipped with anti-collision lights to help reduce the risk of collision with manned aircraft during the day/night.
  • Visual observer: You need a visual observer to observe the entire operation process.
  • Remote ID compliance: A necessary factor for your drone to fly legally.

Note: The weight of a drone flying over a crowd should not exceed 3.5 pounds (1587g).

How to get an "over-people" exemption?

Whether you are a drone pilot in the United States or the United Kingdom, you will be subject to regulatory restrictions from the FAA or CAA. For the aviation authorities, they want drone pilots to solve two problems when applying for an exemption.

First, they want to know the likelihood of an accident when a drone is flying over a crowd. Second, they want to know the severity of the harm that could be caused if a drone malfunctions or is mishandled and hits a crowd.

For a commercial organization's flyover exemption, the FAA wants to see standard operating procedures and training manuals, as well as detailed records of any incidents that should not normally occur. Examples include a drone malfunction or a pilot flying a drone into a crowd or property. It also includes information on how to deal with a drone accident.

When requesting an FAA exemption, understand the classification of drones:

Class 1 drones are very small, typically weighing less than 0.55 pounds. Drones of this weight are unlikely to cause any damage, and the exemption rate for flying over crowds can reach 80%.

Class 2 drones are considered to cause minimal harm or damage. The kinetic impact of the drone should not exceed 11 foot-pounds of energy transmission.

Class 3 drones are more destructive, require FAA certification, and meet specific technical and operational requirements, and transmit no more than 25 foot-pounds of energy.

Additional Requirements for Heavy Recreational Drones

For drones weighing more than 0.88 lbs (399 g), an FAA-approved ASTM-approved parachute is required. For drones weighing less than 399g, use propeller guards. Most drones above 399g do not come with ASTM parachutes, which require drone pilots to purchase separately.

When Flying Over a Gathering of More Than 1,000 People

When you are flying drones for outdoor events such as sporting events, music festivals or concerts, parades or rallies, carnivals, drone light shows, etc., the crowds at the scene may be as high as tens of thousands of people.

For large-scale events, flying over crowds requires pilots to be skilled and take all precautions. For example, flying no closer than 150 meters from people.


Although most industries have recognized the potential of drones, it is still not easy to get exemptions from aviation authorities. No matter where you fly, you need some type of permission to fly over crowds, or avoid doing so altogether. In the United States, you need to comply with the FAA's Part 107 regulations and apply for specific exemptions.

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