Regulation around drones has been a long time coming, especially in light of the chaos caused at London’s Gatwick airport last year when numerous flights were suspended. The Civil Aviation Authority has now taken new measures, which will affect most drone owners. In this blog, we look at what the new measures are and what drones pilots should be aware of in order to comply with the new regulations.
The new requirements
The Civil Aviation Authority has introduced a mandatory requirement for registration of all owners of drones or model aircraft weighing more than 250g (8.8oz). They should register their drones by 30 November.
This means that the person that’s responsible for the drone or model aircraft must register to get an operator ID, which should then be labelled on the drone.
Furthermore, anyone who wants to fly a drone must pass a theory test to get a flyer ID, even if they are not the owner of the drone.
What you would need to know to pass this test, is contained in the Drone and Model Aircraft Code, which you should follow when operating drones, model aeroplanes, model gliders or model helicopters.
Exemptions have been granted for members of several associations involved with flying model aircrafts or other small, remotely controlled crafts such as drones. With permission, the associations will collect the registration fee from members directly and supply their data to the CAA.
The five associations are:
- The UK Drone Association (Arpas UK)
- British Model Flying Association
- Scottish Aeromodellers’ Association
- Large Model Association
- FPV UK
Owners of unregistered drones could then face a fine.
The CAA is also starting a service it hopes will reunite owners with their lost drones.
According to the CAA, a quarter of owners have lost a drone at some point, because of malfunctions in flight, such as losing battery power, loss of signal or pilots making mistakes.
The new Drones Reunited platform will be of use to anyone who has lost or found a drone and it will be free for anyone who registered their drone.
Flying drones near airfields
Since 13 March 2019, there have also been new restrictions for flying drones near airfields. The previous 1km restriction from the airfield boundary is now replaced by a restriction using the airfield’s existing aerodrome traffic zone, which has a radius of either two or two and a half nautical miles and then five kilometres by one kilometre zones starting from the point known as the ‘threshold’ at the end of each of the airfield’s runways. The zones extend upwards to a height of 2,000 feet above the airfield. You can find a map of these restrictions here.
The UK’s new Drone and Model Aircraft Registration and Education Service is now live.
While some oppose the registration by arguing that bad actors will not register their drones, it is yet to be seen whether this will become an effective method of regulation.
Ask a lawyer if you have any questions or for guidance on the commercial use of drones.