UK Drone Regulations And Laws

The UK Drone And Model Aircraft Registration and Education Scheme opens on Tuesday, November 5, 2019. Here is a guide about what you need to know.

When Does The New UK Drone and Model Aircraft Registration and Education Scheme Start?

The UK’s new Drone and Model Aircraft Registration and Education Scheme will go live on Tuesday, November 5, 2019. Please note that you cannot register before this date.

From November 5, the system will be available at Register-drones.caa.co.uk. The CAA has said that an offline service will also be available for people unable to register online

Registration is mandatory from Saturday, November 30, 2019.

What Do I Need To Do To Register?

The new regulations apply to drones and model aircraft from 250g to 20kg that are used outdoors

There will be two elements to the system.

Anyone responsible for a drone or unmanned aircraft (including model aircraft) weighing between 250g and 20kg will need to register as an operator. The cost for this will be £9 renewable annually.

When you register, you’ll get an operator ID with your certificate of registration. You must display your operator ID on your drones and model aircraft. You can use the same operator ID for all your drones and model aircraft.

Your operator ID must be:

  • Visible without needing a special tool to remove or open part of your aircraft;
  • Clear and in block capitals taller than 3mm;
  • Secure and safe from damage;
  • On the main body of the aircraft;
  • Easy to read when the aircraft is on the ground.

Anyone flying a drone or unmanned aircraft (including model aircraft) weighing between 250g and 20kg will need to take and pass an online education package. This is free and renewable every three years.

What Do I Have To Do In The Online Test?

The online theory test relates to flying safely and legally.

It has 20 multiple choice questions and the pass mark is 16. You can take the test as many times as you need.

All of the knowledge needed to pass the test is in a new Drone and Model Aircraft Code.

When you pass the test, you’ll get a flyer ID, which acts as your acknowledgement of competency as a remote pilot from the CAA.

Minimum age: None, but children under 13 can only register with a parent or guardian present.
Registration period: 3 years.
Fee: Free.

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You Also Need To Register As An Operator

You’ll also need to register as an operator if you’re responsible for a drone or model aircraft. The registration period is for one year and you must be aged 18 or over to be an operator.

When you register, you’ll get an operator ID with your certificate of registration. You must display your operator ID on your drones and model aircraft. You can use the same operator ID for all your drones and model aircraft.

There will be an annual fee of £9. This has been reduced from the proposed £16.50.

What Happens If I Don’t Register Or Sit The Test?

Users who fail to register or sit the competency tests could face fines of up to £1,000.

Are There Any Exmeptions?

Yes there are.

Remote pilots flying in accordance with a permission, exemption or operational authorisation (e.g. such as the permission related to commercial operations as required in ANO article 94(5)) that has been issued to a named UAS operator by the CAA will be exempt from having to undertake the online education training and test.

Similarly, where a UK model aircraft association already has an established and CAA reviewed ‘competency scheme’, members who hold an appropriate achievement certificate or award (such as the BMFA ‘A’ certificate) will also be exempt from having to undertake the online education training and test.

Any operators who are not covered under the conditions of a permission/exemption or do not hold a recognised association competency will need to complete the free online course.

To allow operators to demonstrate competence if challenged (for example by the police) the CAA will be issuing a formal exemption that can be used alongside existing permissions / achievements and any other relevant documents. This exemption will be in place until June 30, 2020, when new regulations are expected. The CAA will be working with stakeholders in 2020 to put these into place.

Members of ARPAS-UK, British Model Flying Association (BMFA), Scottish Aeromodellers’ Association (SAA), Large Model Association (LMA) and FPV UK will not need to register as an operator with the CAA system if they are a current member of these associations.

With permission, the associations will collect the registration fee from members directly and supply their data to the CAA. This will take place initially by January 31, 2020, and an exemption from the need to register will be put in place by November 30 to cover association members until then.

The associations will issue further detailed guidance to their members in due course.

I Fly Control Line Model Aircraft. Do The Laws Relate To Me?

The CAA will be issuing an exemption meaning those flying control line model aircraft will not need to comply with the registration or education regulations.

Now That I Am Registered, Is There Anything Else I Need To Be Aware Of When Flying My Drone In The UK?

Yes. When you fly a drone in the UK it is your responsibility to be aware of the rules that are in place to keep everyone safe. Follow the Drone Code to make sure you are flying safely and legally.

The Drone Code states:

1: Always keep your drone in sight. This means you can see and avoid other things while flying.

2: It’s against the law to fly your drone over 400ft (120m). This reduces the likelihood of a conflict with manned aircraft.

3: Keep the right distance from people and property. People and properties – 150ft (50m); Crowds and built-up areas – 500ft (150m) and don’t overfly.

4: You are responsible for each flight. Legal responsibility lies with you. Failure to fly responsibly could result in criminal prosecution

5: Stay well away from aircraft, airports and airfields when flying any drone. It is illegal to fly them inside the airport’s flight restriction zone without permission. If your drone endangers the safety of an aircraft it is a criminal offence and you could go to prison for five years. Click here for more details about flight restriction zones and distances.

Okay, So I Am Registered In The UK? Does This Mean That I Am Covered Outside Of The UK?

No, it doesn’t. Your UK registration is not valid outside of the UK. Please check with the relevant authority in their destination country for details of local requirements for flying drones and model aircraft.

Do The Drone Laws Apply If I Am Visiting The UK?

Yes they do. If you plan on visiting the UK with your drone then the UK drone rules will apply.

Additional Regulations For Recreational Pilots

The regulations for recreational unmanned aircraft flights are contained within the Air Navigation Order 2016 (ANO) which is the primary document for all aviation regulations within the UK.

In order to keep the regulations at a proportionate level for these small UAS, a set of specific, simpler, regulations apply to aircraft that have a mass of 20kg or less.

Over and above the Drone Code, other important advise includes:

  • You are responsible for flying your drone in a safe manner
  • You must not endanger anyone, or any thing with your drone, including any articles that you drop from it
  • If your drone weighs more than 7kg, additional rules apply if you fly in certain types of airspace.

If your drone is fitted with a camera, there are also a number of additional limitations surrounding where you can fly it, and how close you can fly it to other uninvolved people or objects.

In order to be able to fly within these areas, or closer than the minimum distances that are in the regulations, you must obtain prior Permission from the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) to do so.

If you wish to fly your camera fitted unmanned aircraft:

  • within 150m of either a congested area or an organised open air crowd of more than 1000 persons
    and / or
  • within 50m of people or properties/objects that are not under your control

then you will need to obtain a Permission from the CAA in order to do so legally.

For more details, click here.

Indoor Use

Flights inside buildings have nothing to do with air navigation because they can have no effect on flights by aircraft in the open air. As a result, flights within buildings, or within areas where there is no possibility for the unmanned aircraft to ‘escape’ into the open air (such as a ‘closed’ netted structure) are not subject to air navigation legislation. Persons intending to operate drones indoors should refer to the appropriate Health and Safety At Work regulations.

First Person View

FPV flight is only permitted if the activity has been approved by the CAA. A General Exemption has been issued which allows an element of ‘First Person View’ (FPV) flight to be conducted. If you wish to conduct an FPV flight which cannot be accommodated within the terms of this General Exemption, then you will need to apply to the CAA for an Exemption to do so.

Advice For Commercial Drone Pilots

Permissions and/or exemptions are valid for commercial drone pilots for up to 12 months and are subject to an annual renewal.

A permission from the CAA is required to be held if you wish to conduct a commercial operation with your aircraft, or if you wish to fly your aircraft:

  • at a height of more than 400 ft above the surface (iaw ANO 2016 as amended article 94A),
    and/or
  • within 150m of either a congested area or an organised open-air assembly of more than 1000 persons (iaw ANO2016 article 95),
    and/or
  • within 50m of people or properties/objects that are not under your control (iaw ANO2016 article 95)

An exemption from the CAA is required if you wish to seek release from any other requirement within ANO 2016.

Two types of permission are available. These are:

Standard Permission

This enables a person to conduct commercial operations with a small unmanned aircraft (drone) and also permits operations within a congested area. Potential operators are required to provide evidence of pilot competence and an Operations Manual which details how the flights will be conducted.

Non-Standard Permission

This covers all other types of flight and addresses operations that contain a greater element of operating risk. In addition to the requirements for a Standard Permission, applicants are also required to prepare and submit an Operating Safety Case (OSC) to the CAA.

For more information, click here.

Anyone who wants to fly a drone for commercial work will need a Permission for Commercial Operation (PfCO). This can be obtained through Heliguy, which is a CAA-approved National Qualified Entry. For more information about how Heliguy can help you, click here.

UK Airspace Permissions

Further to the above regulations, drone pilots must also follow UK airspace permissions. These come in several different forms that apply to UAVs that include Prohibited Areas, Restricted Areas or Danger Areas (military ranges etc).

There are also areas that can be temporarily restricted for long or short terms which will be announced in Aeronautical Information Circulars or NOTAMs (Notice to Airmen).

Several apps and websites are available to check airspace permissions and updates for the UK. Heliguy would recommend the following to keep up to date with the information:

http://notaminfo.com/ukmap

http://www.skydemonlight.com/

http://dronesafe.uk/drone-assist/

These apps and websites are to be used as advisory and not absolute fact.

Flying on Private Land

Permission must be obtained from the land owner to take off or land on their property. There are no current laws in relation to flying over private property, however, it’s recommended that the land owner is notified and any objections are listened to. Pilots may also be liable if the property owner feels their privacy is being infringed upon, the aircraft is being a ‘nuisance’ or ‘endangering’, or if the aircraft doesn’t have sufficient documentation to prove its airworthiness such as a warranty.

Summary

It’s important that all drone pilots follow the regulations in their country, fly sensibly and responsibly. Make sure all pilots do their research and follow the drone code and they should avoid any issues.

For more information on the above, our products, training or technical team, contact Heliguy by phone on 0191 338 6451 or email at [email protected]

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