ALTHOUGH I DON'T WANT to be a test case for property owners who ask a judge to defend their rights to airspace above their property, I know I'm an easy target for such an action. Because in Ireland, some people believe they strongly in the ad coelum doctrine, granting property rights 'up to the heavens and down to hell'. 
When I started flying in the 1970s, I learned about the regulation affecting aviation. Once above an airport traffic area, higher altitude airspace is public airspace in which landowners of the surface below had little or no interest. That's why property owners who live on approach and departure corridors often have their requests for court intervention denied when they petition to shut down commercial aviation routes. It's often easier to ask the guards to come around and claim reckless and dangerous operations.
I have a small index card containing several Airspace Questions that I address before launching my DJI P3P on flight profiles like the one shown above. These are thoughtful pre-flight questions.
- Will I be a hazard to another aircraft in flight?
- Will I fly over an assembly of people?
- Will the drone remain within 300m of me when I am operating it?
- Will the drone stay 120m or more away from any person, vessel or structure not under my control?
- Will I fly farther than 5km fro any aerodrome?
- Will I avoid operating my drone in a negligent or reckless manner?
- Will I remain within 120, of ground level?
- Will I avoid flying over urban areas?
- Will I avoid flying in civil or military controlled airspace?
- Will I avoid restricted areas (e.g. military installations, prisons, etc.)?
- Do I have from the landowner for take-off and landing?
I fly my DJI Phantom 3 Pro in low altitude airspace where property rights are not so clear-cut. Although various courts have recognised the rights of landowners in the lower altitude airspace over their property, “to such height as is necessary for the ordinary use and enjoyment” of their land, what height this actually extends to has never been definitively resolved. Hence, it would be interesting to serve me with my date in court to copper-fasten Irish aviation rules in terms of drone use. 
Download Irish Drones Questions and Answers
The DJI P3P that I fly has very clever on-board warning systems. It often tells me when I'm about to fly in restricted airspace. Sometimes the warnings pop up when I'm on the main campus of the Limerick Institute of Technology because Munster Rugby invokes a no-fly restriction over Thomond Park near game days. I also get on-screen warnings in Celbridge, a town that lies within the Airport Traffic Area of Weston Airport. To comply with the Weston restriction I must contact Dublin Air Traffic Control if going above 15m. I normally keep the drone at 15m in Celbridge. However, I can get permission to fly above the limit (approximately 50ft) only by documenting my Specific Operating Permission and Pilot Competency Certificate.
To gain these certifications, a drone operator must attend a Ground Theoretical course run by one of the six registered training facilities in the country, either iFly Technology, Iris Sky Systems, Thunder Tiger Aviation, Safe Drone Academy, Sky Tec or FlyRyte Drone Academy. The ground theoretical course involves a written exam and a flight exam with one of the IAA-approved flight examiners. Before the flight exam is conducted, the drone operator must have third-party public liability insurance.
[Bernie Goldbach is a certified flight instructor (CFII, SEL, MEL) and flew gliders on the same grass field as Chesley Sullenberger. He has 150 hours in the turbocharged Centurion below.]
- Dr Kathryn O'Sullivan -- "Who owns the sky? Property owners or drone users?" in The Irish Times, Novmber 13, 2015.
- In Ireland, S.I. 563 of 2015 regulated the flying of drones in Ireland. The documentation is freely available for anyone to read on the Irish Aviation Authority website (iaa.ie/general-aviation/drones).
- Bonus Link: Copter Shop Ireland.