Brexit Impacts New Drone Laws

  • UK drone qualifications will not be valid in the EU;
  • UK operators wanting to fly in EU States will need to do the local version of the A2 CofC or GVC;
  • This is the same for non-UK operators wishing to fly in the UK;
  • CAA says this could change in the future.

New drone qualifications obtained in the UK cannot be used in EU member countries, the CAA has said.

Upcoming EU drone laws – due to start on December 31, 2020 – will see the introduction of the A2 CofC and the GVC certificates.

Operators flying under certain criteria within the new Open Category will need to obtain an A2 CofC.

Meanwhile, the GVC – geared towards enterprise drone users flying in the new Specific Category – will be needed to apply for an Operational Authorisation, which will replace the PfCO.

One of the aims of the new EU drone regulations is to harmonise operations across the Continent, but the UK’s pending withdrawal from the EU has changed the landscape.

However, during a workshop about the new regulations, the CAA confirmed that permissions obtained in the UK will NOT be valid in other EU member states.

The CAA did say that this could change in the future.

UK Operators Flying In EU Member States

So, a UK operator who wants to fly in an EU member state or an EASA Associate Member State (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland), must comply with the requirements of the EU versions of the new drone laws.

The National Aviation Authority (NAA) of the EU Member or Associate State where a UK UAS operator first plans to operate becomes the ‘parent
NAA’ for that operator throughout the EU.

The UK operator must register within this Member State and deal with the ‘parent NAA’ for all certificates, operational authorisations, declarations etc.

For non-EU residents wanting to fly in Europe, EASA’s website states: ‘Given that there is not yet any mutual recognition established between EASA and other countries, in the domain of drones, the training or qualification obtained in your country of residence will not be accepted in the EU. Therefore, you will have to undergo the required training before you can fly your drone.’

Access to the websites of individual EU Member States, including a link to their ‘drones’ webpages, can be obtained at EASA Light-MS.

UK Operators Flying In Non EU-Member States

UK UAS Operators wishing to operate within any State other than one which is a member of the EU or EASA Associate Member must comply with the requirements that are set out for UAS operations within that State.

In the first instance, operators should consult the guidance documentation that has been prepared by the relevant NAA.

Operators From EU Member States Flying In The UK

A ‘third-country’ UAS operator (whose principal place of business, establishment, or residence is outside of the UK), who wants to operate in the UK will need to register as a UK operator.

Once registered, they must then comply with the same requirements as set out for an equivalent UK UAS operator.

But, the CAA has said that there is scope for valid national documents relating to operator certification, remote pilot competency or even national operational authorisations to be accepted by the CAA as part of a risk assessment.

A drone operator who has registered and obtained an A2 CofC and/or GVC in an EU member location, like Germany, can use the same certificate throughout other member states.

CE Drone Marking To Be Replaced By UK Marking

Under the new rules, a CE-class marking system will be introduced, based on drones meeting certain criteria to receive a certain class marking. These class markings will define how and where a drone can be flown in the Open Category.

Today, the CAA said that drones in the UK will receive a UK marking, instead of a CE class marking – but there will be no difference in the class criteria.

PfCO Holders To Receive Temporary Exemption

The CAA has also said that operators with a valid PfCO after December 31, 2020, will be issued with a temporary exemption to bridge the gap between that which is stated in their PfCO and the retained regulations.

This will also see a change to the Air Navigation Order contained within CAP 393 with the deletion of a number of articles applicable to Small Unmanned Aircraft (SUA) in lieu of their inclusion in the Implementing Regulation.

This will mean that they need to abide by the permission afforded by an Operational Authorisation, rather than their PfCO. This will enable PfCO holders to operate in accordance with UKPDRA01 in the Specific Category.

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