- UK CAA to recommend to the DfT that Legacy and Transitional drone provisions in the Open Category be 'extended indefinitely';
- The CAA will also ask the DfT for the re-evaluation of the class-marking scheme;
- The CAA consulted on the proposals and received 4,506 responses, including 2,411 additional comments;
- CAA says that a 'clear and significant majority favour extending Legacy and Transitional provisions beyond 24 months'
- If approved, it will mean that current UK drone laws in the Open Category will remain the same and not change - as currently planned - at the end of this year.
The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is calling for Legacy and Transitional drone provisions in the Open Category to be 'extended indefinitely' and the class-marking scheme to be re-evaluated.
It follows a consultation on the proposals, which prompted thousands of responses from the drone community.
The CAA says that there was a 'clear and significant majority who favour an extension of Legacy and Transitional provisions beyond 24 months'.
The CAA will now take its recommendations to the Department for Transport (DfT). You can read the full report here.
If approved, pilots flying non-class-marked drones would be able to continue to enjoy the benefits of the current less-stringent rules for longer - beyond December 31, 2022.
In turn, this would extend the longevity of current drones on the market, providing greater operational freedom for a longer length of time. You can find out more about UK drone laws in our in-depth guide.
The CAA launched the consultation earlier this year. The CAA took the view that extending the Legacy and Transitional provisions beyond the end of this year would likely be necessary due to the UK not having in place the necessary infrastructure to move away from non-class marked UAS, to class marked UAS by January 1, 2023.
The purpose of the consultation was to gauge the opinions of stakeholders.
In total, 97.98% were in favour of extending the provisions for Legacy category UAS in the Open Category, with 70.73% supporting the notion of extending it beyond 24 months.
A total of 96.69% were also in favour of extending Transitional provisions, with 78.16% wanting to extend this beyond 24 months.
The following reasons were given by respondents:
· Environmental Impact: A significant proportion of respondents were concerned about the environmental impact of having potentially thousands of UAS, many of which still functional, becoming e-waste at the end of the Transitional and Legacy periods. Respondents said that, at the point Class Marked UAS are available, then the industry would see a natural retirement of Legacy and Transitional UAS.
· Economic Impact: The majority of responses focused on the economic impact of having to upgrade to Class Marked UAS after investing significantly in Legacy, and Transitional UAS. The CAA was told the current regulation, if allowed to continue, would push not only recreational, but also commercial operators out of the market.
· Investment Uncertainty: Many respondents told the CAA that their businesses have held off purchasing much-needed UAS with increased capability out of concern for their future in the Open Category. The uncertainly currently surrounding Class Marked UAS which is creating uncertainty within
· Safety: A significant percentage of respondents made the argument against Class Marked UAS in the Open Category. Citing the low volume of incidents that currently occur between those who abide by the current regulatory regime.
On the back of this, the CAA is now issuing its feedback to the DfT, calling for an extension.
The CAA's recommendation states: 'This (the consultation) has been a valuable exercise for the CAA to learn why the regulated community was in favour of this. It has shaped our own opinion significantly and moulded our response to
the Department for Transport.
'All provisions should be extended indefinitely and the class marking scheme should be re-evaluated. This will form part of a larger investigation into the current UAS Open Category regulatory framework and what is most suitable for the United Kingdom.
'This is to ensure any solution suitably addresses the needs of the community as well as addresses safety and security risks in a proportional manner. Notwithstanding a re-evaluation of the class marking scheme an extension should be indefinite at least until the consumer can purchase Class Marked UAS on the open market.
'At that point, consideration could be given to the re-introduction of a transitional period. This would ensure that the regulated community has a suitable amount of time to naturally phase out older UAS whilst at the same time having the option to purchase Class Marked UAS.
'This approach would significantly mitigate almost all areas of concern raised in the responses to the consultation.'
The DfT decision will be announced in due course.