If I wanted to use an unmanned drone for carrying potentially dangerous cargo like car fuel, what would be the legal requirements of this in the UK? For example, lets say I wanted to carry fuel in jerry cans for use by drivers who have run out of fuel.

What are the rules on commercial drone flights where the drone will be flying autonomously and out of visual sight of the operator?

What are the rules on carrying cargo like fuel in said drones?

  • $\begingroup$ I can't answer for UK. It's prohibited in the US under the new drone section para 107.36. I noticed it doesn't specify an exception if the drone runs on gas. I guess they figure any drone with a gas engine would be over the 55 lb limit. $\endgroup$
    – TomMcW
    May 5, 2017 at 20:03
  • $\begingroup$ @TomMcW My understanding of the legal term "carriage" is that it's for transporting goods or persons. If the drone is designed to run on a certain fuel, that's not carriage, but transporting a can of the same fuel is. I'm pretty sure LiPo batteries are also hazardous material, after all. That still makes this idea illegal in the US unless a waiver is obtained, though. $\endgroup$
    – Dranon
    May 8, 2017 at 14:11
  • $\begingroup$ Would like to see how / if any of the dangerous goods regulatory bodies (ICAO, PHMSA) have issued any special permits for transporting dangerous goods via drones. $\endgroup$
    – ksea
    Nov 8, 2017 at 16:43

1 Answer 1


Article 94 of the Air Navigation Order

(1) A person must not cause or permit any article or animal (whether or not attached to a parachute) to be dropped from a small unmanned aircraft so as to endanger persons or property.

(2) The person in charge of a small unmanned aircraft may only fly the aircraft if reasonably satisfied that the flight can safely be made.

(3) The person in charge of a small unmanned aircraft must maintain direct, unaided visual contact with the aircraft sufficient to monitor its flight path in relation to other aircraft, persons, vehicles, vessels and structures for the purpose of avoiding collisions.

(4) The person in charge of a small unmanned aircraft which has a mass of more than 7kg excluding its fuel but including any articles or equipment installed in or attached to the aircraft at the commencement of its flight, must not fly the aircraft:

(a) in Class A, C, D or E airspace unless the permission of the appropriate air traffic control unit has been obtained;

(b) within an aerodrome traffic zone during the notified hours of watch of the air traffic control unit (if any) at that aerodrome unless the permission of any such air traffic control unit has been obtained; or

(c) at a height of more than 400 feet above the surface unless it is flying in airspace described in sub-paragraph (a) or (b) and in accordance with the requirements for that airspace.

(5) The person in charge of a small unmanned aircraft must not fly the aircraft for the purposes of commercial operations except in accordance with a permission granted by the CAA.

So section 3 states you must have direct visual contact and section 5 states that you must get permission from the CAA

An individual or organisation that would like to conduct regular flights with their drone, however, will probably need to submit an operating manual to the CAA for a permanent approval. This will allow greater freedom to operate continuously without the need to seek ad hoc approvals.

This type of Permission could be of use to:

emergency services a local authority that would like to use a drone to carry out maintenance inspections of its property As with a Permission to carry out a commercial operation, the CAA will need to be assured of the competence of the person who will be flying the device. The ‘pilot’ therefore will probably need to undergo an assessment process with one of the approved National Qualified Entities.


  • $\begingroup$ Note that even if permission were somehow granted to carry a can of petrol, the can and the UAV would need to be designed to ensure that the vapor would not be accidentally ignited. $\endgroup$
    – Dranon
    May 8, 2017 at 14:07

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