Frequently Asked Questions – DRONE FLYING

Note: Full details regarding the operation of all types of unmanned aircraft can be found on the CAA’s website at . The details below are intended to supplement, and not replace, the information provided in the CAA website.



  1. I am worried about a drone that I have seen flying over my house / in a busy urban

area / at an open air gathering. I believe it may be unsafe; who should I report it to?

As a general rule, unless the drone pilot has permission from the CAA, he or she should not be flying within 150m of a ‘congested area’ (e.g. town or city) or at a public event. The definition of a congested area is:

Congested Area’ in relation to a city, town or settlement, means any area which is substantially used for residential, industrial, commercial or recreational purposes’

When the pilot does have permission from the CAA, such flights are usually restricted to flight distances no closer than 50m from persons, vessels, vehicles and structures that are not ‘under the control’ of the pilot.

These restrictions mean that the use of a drone in public places is limited and often not suitable or legal unless the operator has received the appropriate permission from the CAA. To this end, our enforcement strategy reflects the balance of capabilities between the CAA and local Police services. The Police often have greater resources, response times and powers of investigation than the CAA. To support this, the CAA has agreed with the Police, in a signed Memorandum of Understanding, that the Police will take the lead in dealing with drone misuse incidents, particularly at public events, that may contravene aviation safety legislation or other relevant criminal legislation.

We recommend that any such incidents are reported directly to the Police.

The CAA’s remit is limited to safety and does not include concerns over privacy or broadcast rights.

Privacy issues are covered by the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) and will not be dealt with by the CAA.

  1. What is the difference between a Drone and model aircraft?

Within the law, there is no difference between a drone and a model aircraft. Both are classified as ‘small unmanned aircraft’ and that there are civil aviation regulations covering how and where they can be used. In terms of these regulations (the Air Navigation Order), a ‘small unmanned aircraft’ means any unmanned aircraft, other than a balloon or a kite, having a mass of not more than 20kg without its fuel, but including any articles or equipment installed in or attached to the aircraft at the commencement of its flight. When an unmanned aircraft weights more than 20kg, additional regulations become applicable and recreational aircraft in this category are usually classified as ‘large model aircraft’.

Recent technological advances mean that a much greater variety of small unmanned aircraft are now available. These vary from the ready-to-fly multi-rotor types that represent the popular conception of a ‘drone’, through to the traditional kit or plans-built model aeroplane or helicopter. A typical multi-rotor drone is capable of automatic stabilisation and navigation, in addition to being controlled from the pilot over a radio link. The traditional model aircraft is usually only controlled by the pilot over a radio link, requires much greater pilot training and skill, and is flown only at specific recreational sites away from persons and property.

In regulatory terms, the only real distinctions made are that small unmanned aircraft used for commercial purposes, or that are fitted with a camera (i.e. equipped to undertake any form of surveillance or data acquisition), have additional requirements or limitations that restrict their use in certain circumstances.

In practice, the vast majority of small unmanned aircraft used for commercial work are of the camera-equipped multi-rotor drone type. These vary in size and capability and, unlike traditional model aircraft, are increasingly being used for specific purposes including photographic flights in urban areas. This type of use poses a higher risk and could present a conflict with other activities; the drone pilot must understand that flight close to other aircraft, people or habitation and at outdoor events can pose a real risk to public safety.

  1. How safe are Drones?

Small civil drones are not yet subject to the same level of design, manufacturing and continuing airworthiness requirements that apply to most full-sized manned aircraft. This means that there are no specific aviation standards to be met regarding structural integrity, reliability, stability and control, capability and performance, or any other measurable characteristics of the aircraft. For example, the popular electric multi-rotor type of drone relies solely on its motors for lift and flight- control, unlike full-size certified aircraft, and most traditional model aircraft, multi-rotor drones have no glide or autorotative (helicopter) capability if they suffer a major power failure.

Although some of these aircraft may well be built to general retail/consumer standards, these standards do not directly translate into quantifiable levels of aviation safety assurance. To mitigate for this shortfall and to protect the uninvolved general public, restrictions have been placed on where commercial drones can be used (minimum distances from people, not within urban areas, not flown beyond the visual line of sight of the pilot etc).

If a person flying a drone has demonstrated a sufficient level of pilot competency, through training and assessment on an approved National Qualified Entity (NQE) course, some of these restrictions can be lifted in order to undertake a greater variety of commercial work. Details of this process, and when the lesser restrictions can be applied, are set out in Q6 and Q7 below.

  1. Are there any specific regulations for Drones (Small Unmanned Aircraft)?

Yes. The safety regulations are contained in specific articles within the Air Navigation Order 2016 (ANO) This is referenced in CAP393, which can be downloaded from the CAA website, in the publications section. These are safety regulations and do not encompass matters relating to privacy and security. The ANO articles set limits on where drones may fly and whether they can be used for commercial purposes (“Commercial Operations”). The main ANO articles that apply are articles 94, 94A, 94B, 95 and 241. Full details of these can be found on the CAA’s website here

  1. Where can I find detailed guidance on the whole subject of flying drones/unmanned

aircraft in the UK?

The CAA primary policy guidance for all types of unmanned aircraft is contained in Civil Aviation Publication (CAP) 722 – ‘Unmanned Aircraft System Operations in UK Airspace – Guidance’ available via the CAA website

The CAA also publishes further information about unmanned aircraft and drones, which includes details on certain specific subject areas, on the CAA website :


  1. Do I need a ‘licence’ to fly a drone for commercial work?

At the present time there is no official UK CAA drone pilot licence. A drone pilot however, does require the Permission of the CAA to undertake commercial work (known as ‘Commercial Operations’). This is also the case for any flight operation with a camera-equipped drone that is intended to fly closer to congested areas, open-air assemblies of people and to people, vessels, vehicles or structures than the distances set out in ANO article 95(2).

The detailed requirements for getting the CAA’s permission are set out in CAP722 and the CAA website, but in general the pilot to needs to:

  • Demonstrate a general understanding of aviation knowledge and theory: airmanship, airspace, aviation law and good flying practice (Theoretical knowledge exam).
  • Pass a practical flight assessment (flight test).
  • Develop basic procedures for conducting the type of flight they want to do (including procedures for assessing the safety of launch and flying-sites) and to set these out in a document (Operations Manual).
  • Apply to the CAA for a ‘Permission’ guidance on how to apply and submit your application.

The standard permission is a signed CAA authorisation document valid within the UK for up to 12 months and subject to renewal. The permission allows flights throughout the UK subject to the conditions and limitations written into the permission.

Applicants should always refer to the CAA Scheme of Charges for the costs at time of application.

  1. What are the benefits of gaining the standard UK CAA Permission?

There are three main benefits to gaining the standard CAA permission:

  • Receive payment for your services. First of all, in practical terms you will be able to advertise a legal commercial service and receive payment for performing your services, usually in the provision of aerial filming and photography. This is known as a ‘Commercial Operation’ which is defined as:

‘any flight by a small unmanned aircraft except a flight for public transport, or any operation of any other aircraft except an operation for public transport;

which is available to the public;

or which, when not made available to the public,

in the case of a flight by a small unmanned aircraft, is performed under a contract between the SUA operator and a customer, where the latter has no control over the remote pilot


in any other case, is performed under a contract between an operator and a customer, where the latter has no control over the operator,

in return for remuneration or other valuable consideration.’

  • Reduced limitations on where you can fly. ANO article 95 (listed at Question 4) sets strict limits on where camera-equipped drones can fly. Probably the most limiting of these, in terms of earning potential and the type of jobs you can do, is the requirement for the drone not to be flown “over or within 150 metres of any congested area”:

A congested area, in relation to a city, town or settlement, means any area which is substantially used for residential, industrial, commercial or recreational purposes.

Because of this, you would then be limited almost exclusively to rural areas, however the operator must determine if this is the case prior to conducting operations. The CAA cannot advise in this capacity.

The standard CAA Permission recognises this difficulty and gives an automatic concession to operate within a congested area, but the pilot must still comply with the following conditions:

(a) No flight within 50 metres of any person, vessel, vehicle or structure that is not ‘under the control of the person in charge of the aircraft’, except that during take-off and landing this distance may be reduced to 30 metres;

(b) No flight over or within 150 metres of an organised open-air assembly of more than

1,000 persons;

  • Availability of minimum aircraft insurance cover in respect of third parties: I

Insurance specifically for aircraft operators is a requirement of Regulation (EC) 785/2004 ‘Insurance for air carriers and aircraft operators’. Article 2(b) of this regulation states that the regulation does not apply to ‘model aircraft with an MTOM (maximum take-off mass) of less than 20kg’, but it does not actually define what the term ‘model aircraft’ actually means. As a result, the United Kingdom has interpreted ‘model aircraft’ to mean “Any small unmanned aircraft which is being used for sport or recreational purposes only”. Therefore, for all other types of small unmanned aircraft flight, whether commercial or non-commercial, appropriate cover that meets the requirements of EC 785/2004 is required. Having appropriate insurance cover is an important part of covering any liability in the event of injury or damage to a third-party (along with your normal Public Liability insurance). Many insurance providers require evidence of your competency as a pilot, i.e. you are qualified for a CAA permission or have already had a CAA permission granted, before they will extend insurance cover at a nominal rate.

It should be borne in mind that insurance to cover any liability in respect of third parties is likely to be invalid if the drone was flown at a location or for a purpose that was not deemed to be legally compliant with the Air Navigation Order (ANO).

  1. Where can I get the training and assessment needed to apply for CAA Permission?

The CAA does not organise or run training and assessment courses itself, but instead approves commercial organisations (National Qualified Entities – NQEs) to do this in our place. National Qualified Entities (NQEs) are established to assess the competence of people operating small unmanned aircraft as part of the CAA’s process in granting operating permissions.

Assessment by an NQE is necessary for those with no previous aviation training or qualifications. To achieve this, NQEs may offer a short educational course/programme prior to the competency assessment aimed at bringing an individual’s knowledge up to the required level (but please note that these are not CAA approved training courses).

A typical NQE full-course involves:

  • pre-entry/online study
  • 1-3 days of classroom lessons and exercises
  • a written theory exam (Pass mark 75%)
  • a practical flight assessment

After successfully completing the theory element, applicants will:

  • develop his/her own operations manual
  • practice aircraft operation/flying skills for the practical flight assessment.

Flight assessments are normally arranged and completed at your own pace:

  • they are usually arranged separately but may be available on the last day of the course
  • they have no structured syllabus or sequence of numbered exercises, but the test will be based on testing the procedures that have been described within the applicant’s operations manual

The subject areas and syllabus, including the practical flight assessment, are listed in CAP722.

A current list of approved NQEs is listed on the CAA website here .

  1. I already have a pilots’ licence or other aviation pilot qualification (including model flying certificates). Are there any CAA Permission training-concessions available for existing qualifications and experience?

For UK based pilots that already have aviation experience, and in particular a licence or certificate that allows them to fly in non-segregated UK airspace (PPL, glider rating, etc), there are concessions against the theory training element of the Remote Pilot competency requirements. With such qualifications it is often only necessary to undertake the practical flight assessment and develop your operations manual.

Concessions are also made for traditional model flyers. The long-established model aircraft scene in the UK has been at the forefront of developing expertise and safe flying practises for small unmanned aircraft and these attributes remain applicable as new electric technology comes into use. At the present time suitable British Model Flying Association (BMFA) certificates are accepted and although not listed, equivalents from the Scottish Model Association and Large Model Association are also acceptable.

The full range of available concessions (acceptable alternative evidence of pilot competency) are set out in more detail in CAP722.

  1. I qualified to fly unmanned aircraft (RPAS) in the UK Armed Services, are there any

concessions available to allow me to fly commercial civil unmanned aircraft?

Some concessions are already available (see Q.9 above). The general rule for these concessions is that the pilot already has qualifications or experience in flying an aircraft in non-segregated UK airspace (i.e. not limited to flying only within military ranges, training areas or on active military service overseas). The CAA is considering various options to accept a wider range of existing military qualifications for pilots of <20kg fixed-wing military RPAS. It is likely that concessions will eventually be made for suitable military small RPAS pilots who have had:

  • Direct, hands-on flying training, logged flight experience and have been granted a military small RPAS qualification and;
  • Have completed appropriate ‘bridging’ elements of the current civil RPAS theory syllabus, plus a flight assessment on a civil drone where necessary.
  1. How is ‘Commercial Operations’ defined and what sort of activity is allowed?

The Air Navigation Order defines ‘commercial operations’ as:

‘any flight by a small unmanned aircraft except a flight for public transport, or any operation of any other aircraft except an operation for public transport;

which is available to the public;

or which, when not made available to the public,

in the case of a flight by a small unmanned aircraft, is performed under a contract between the SUA operator and a customer, where the latter has no control over the remote pilot


in any other case, is performed under a contract between an operator and a customer, where the latter has no control over the operator,

in return for remuneration or other valuable consideration.’

The key elements in understanding this term are ‘…any flight by a small unmanned aircraft…in return for remuneration or other valuable consideration’.

The term ‘available to the public’ should be interpreted as being a service or commodity that any member of the public can make use of, or actively choose to use, (e.g. because it has been advertised or offered to someone).

‘Commercial operations’ allows a broad variety of flight applications, predominantly centring on aerial photography or the operation of sensors and other data-gathering devices. The essential question that needs to be asked is “what is the purpose of the (specific) flight?” i.e. “If I were not receiving payment/valuable consideration for making the flight, would it still take place?”

Example 1: A drone operator holding a CAA permission to undertake commercial operations is engaged to film or survey a building development site or infrastructure facility. This is clearly within the remit of the permission and the operation can proceed within the limitations and conditions stated on the operator’s permission.

Example 2: An estate agent or builder’s firm wants to use a drone for aerial imagery/survey as part of their service. This also would be considered a commercial operation even if it only comprised a small part of the service to the customer, e.g. advertising a customer’s house or checking the property for the extent of works required. The operator of the drone would need to have a CAA permission which enables him/her to conduct commercial operations. The estate agent or builder’s firm should gain a permission or use the services of an existing permission holder (a list of such permission holders is provided on the CAA website).

Whilst every case should be judged on its own merits, some types of arrangements are not generally considered by the CAA to be commercial operations:

  • Advertising revenue received as a result of persons visiting a website or social media page where video or photographic stills shot from a drone are displayed/posted. This is because these types of web-pages may be legitimately used to post recreational video material that was not commissioned by another party but was conceived and wholly funded by the poster. This would not apply if the photographic material had been directly commissioned by another party for the purposes of display or marketing on their website.
  • Generation of self-marketing material to display an object, event or other activity. An individual or business would not usually be considered to be a commercial operation if the flight is provided only for their own use.

Example: A charity, educational establishment, local authority or business acquires a drone which is used to provide aerial imagery for incorporation into their own promotional material.

  • Any other imagery or data collection task where the video, photographic stills or other data collected, are used exclusively for the drone operator’s own use.

Example: A university research team wants to use a drone to gather survey data or imagery to help with their research project. This is legitimate as long as the research project was not directly funded by a business that intends to use the results of the data for its own business purposes (including any material or research into its products or services). Clearly university research is funded through a variety of means (grants, charitable and alumni donations, etc) and for varying purposes. The exact arrangements would need to be considered in each case. Where an academic organisation is openly advertising its capabilities to external organisations and a business relationship is entered into with an external organisation, the use of a drone for that purpose is likely to be construed as a commercial operation. In order to alleviate difficulties with varied funding models, universities and other similar organisations should consider applying for permission from the CAA so that their services can be offered without constraint.

  1. I am looking to hire a drone operator to do some marketing filming and photography;

what should I look for?

The drone operator should have the permission of the CAA to carry out commercial operations. Currently, each commercial drone operator who has been granted CAA permission will have a document from us granting the permission and setting out conditions for its use. You should ask the operator to show you his or her permission document and discuss how the work might be achieved within the conditions of the permission? Please remember that different operators are likely to have different conditions within their permissions, due to differences in their experience, practical abilities, or the technical capabilities of the aircraft they are using.

The CAA publishes a list of current holders of the CAA permission on our website. This list is only updated fortnightly. However, the primary means of identifying an individual permission-holder’s competence is to see their permission document and not to solely rely on any details provided on their website or other publicity material.

  1. I am a drone operator and the rules say that some of the limitations do not apply if I

am flying near to persons that are ‘under the control of the SUA operator or the remote pilot of the aircraft’. Is there any guidance on how these persons are defined?

Due to the large number of possible circumstances, the CAA can only give general guidelines, however persons under the control of the SUA operator or remote pilot of a small unmanned aircraft can generally be considered to be:

  • Persons solely present for the purpose of participating in the drone flight operation.
  • Persons under the control of the event or site manager who can reasonably be expected to follow directions and safety precautions to avoid unplanned interactions with the drone. Such persons could include building-site or other industrial workers, film and TV production staff and any other pre-briefed, nominated individuals with an essential task to perform in relation to the event.

Spectators or other persons gathered for sports or other mass public events that have not been specifically established for the purpose of the drone operation are generally not regarded as being ‘under the control of the SUA operator or remote pilot’. In principle, persons under the control of the person in charge of the aircraft at a mass public event must be able to:

  • Elect to participate or not to participate;
  • Broadly understand the risk posed to them;
  • Have reasonable safeguards established for them by the site manager and drone operator during the period of drone flight operations; and
  • Not be restricted from taking part in the event or activity if they decide not to participate with the drone operation.

Example: A drone is filming at a large music festival or public event. In this case it is not sufficient for the audience/those present to have been informed of the operations of the drone via a public-address system, or in advance by website publishing, e-mail, text and electronic or other means of ticketing, etc. These methods of communication do not satisfy the points above. Permissions have, however, occasionally been granted for drone flights at public events and these have been made by special arrangement. These permissions have been extremely limited and usually involve a segregated take-off site with the drone operating only vertically within strict lateral limits. There is normally no allowance for direct over-flight of persons.

  1. I am a film-maker and want to use a drone to complement or replace my usual

camera equipment. I am particularly interested in location shoots in one or more of the UK’s major cities.

The first thing to note is that this will not be possible without having at least a ‘standard’ permission from the CAA to allow some types of flights within congested areas. On its own, the standard permission does not give the right to fly unhindered and you will still require permission from the owner, manager or authority for the land from which the aircraft will be taking off and landing. Invariably the conditions of the permission will also require that you ‘have control’ over the area you intend to use the camera-drone, and this includes any persons or vehicles in the area over which you intend to operate the aircraft. The minimum distances are stated on the permission.

In summary in advance of filming you need to ensure that you have:

  • Permission from the Civil Aviation Authority
  • Permission from the owner, manager or authority for the land from which the aircraft will be taking off and landing
  • Control over the area you intend to fly the aircraft, including any persons, vessels or vehicles in the area over which you intend to operate.

The CAA permission only addresses the safety aspects of the flight and does not constitute permission to disregard the legitimate interests of other statutory bodies such as the Police and Emergency Services, the Highway Agency, local authorities (and their agents) or any other statutory body.

In order to exercise the necessary ‘control’ over a nearby public environment, it will often be necessary to contact the local authority to make suitable arrangements such as road-closures or other restrictions of access. This is a normal part of ground-based filming in urban areas and the same procedures should be followed in the case of camera-drones. Due to the lead-times advisable for making such arrangements, Location Managers and production staff should start this process as early as possible.

The following links may prove useful:

The British Film Commission (BFC) and

Filming in:

  • Northern Ireland:
  • Wales:
  • Scotland:
  • England (outside London):
  • London:

London drone-filming information and list of Borough film offices: and boroughs-film

Detailed guidance on drone flying in London and other towns and cities can be found in CAP722.

  1. Whether commercial or recreational, are there any specific places (restricted

airspace) I am not allowed to fly?

In this context, ‘specific places’ is taken as meaning places or blocks of airspace where permanent or temporary restrictions are also placed on other types of manned aviation activity. Airspace provided for sequencing and separation of traffic, e.g. Controlled Airspace and Aerodrome Traffic Zones are not considered to be in this category.

In line with long-standing international agreements, the UK has a well-established system for notifying these places and the airspace surrounding them. Such areas are typically either: Prohibited Areas, Restricted Areas or Danger Areas (military ranges etc). Some other types of general or controlled airspace may have temporary restrictions placed on them. Further details can be found in the UK Aeronautical Information Publication (UK AIP ENR 1.1 – General Rules and Procedures, and ENR 5 – Navigation Warnings) at the NATS Aeronautical Information Service website at:

Permanent Prohibited, Restricted or Danger areas are marked on Visual Flight Rules (VFR) flight charts which are readily available for purchase online or at local flight schools/clubs. In addition,

proprietary VFR flight-planning and navigation software and apps contain such information in their mapping databases. Details of suitable apps/software can be found at

It is occasionally necessary to institute temporary restrictions of airspace (‘Restricted Area – Temporary’). These are usually disseminated via Aeronautical Information Circular (‘Mauve’) or if at very short notice, via the Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) system. These temporary restrictions are also listed on the AIS website. It is important to note that these restricted areas apply to all aircraft including drones.


  1. Can I fly Within the Vicinity of an Airport

Small unmanned aircraft (of any mass) are not allowed to fly within the Flight Restriction Zone of a protected aerodrome without an appropriate permission – see ANO 2016 article 94A. This has recently been updated, and will come into force on March 13th. Until then, the current Flight Restriction Zone applies (i.e. airfield boundary + 1km).

The UAS Flight Restriction Zone consists of the following three elements:

The Aerodrome Traffic Zone: A 2 or 2.5 nautical mile radius ‘cylinder’ around the airport,

extending 2000 ft above the aerodrome, centred on the longest runway.

Runway Protection Zones: A rectangle extending 5Km from the threshold of a runway

away from the airport, along the extended runway centreline, and 500m either side- also to a height of 2000 ft above the aerodrome.

Additional Zones: In the case where a line that is 1Km beyond the boundary of an airport extends beyond the aerodrome traffic zone or a runway protection zone, and so would not be protected by it, the flight restriction zone will include a ‘bump’ (the airfield boundary + 1KM) to protect this part of the aerodrome.

The exact shape of the Flight Restriction Zone varies depending on the specific airport that it protects. Prior to flight, the pilot should check to ensure that they are operating well outside these areas. This may be obtained from official sources:

– The Dronesafe website: – The UK Aeronautical Information Publication – The UK Military Aeronautical Information Publication

Other UAS mapping and planning websites exist, which contain this information as well.

It should be noted however, that flying outside a flight protection zone does not guarantee separation from other aircraft, the UAS pilot is reminded that the Air Navigation Order requires that any person in charge of a small drone:

  • may only fly the aircraft if reasonably satisfied that the flight can safely be made and;
  • that they must maintain direct, unaided visual contact with the aircraft …for the purpose of avoiding collisions.

It should be noted that the entire Flight Restriction Zone exists and remains active at all times regardless of whether the airport is open or not.

Further details and explanations can be found in CAP1763.

  1. How do I get permission to fly a UAS in an Aerodrome UAS Flight Restriction Zone

Operating within the FRZ requires the permission of whoever is responsible for this airspace, to ensure the safety of all aircraft within their airspace. Essentially, if there is somebody in ‘the tower’, they must authorise the flight; if not (because the aerodrome is closed, or there was no one there in the first place), the Aerodrome Operator must authorise it. Further details can be found in CAP 1763, the Dronesafe website and the CAA website.

  1. What about in Controlled Airspace

There are no longer any specific restrictions pertaining to the flight of small drones in controlled airspace (Class A, B, C, D, E). A small drone may be flown in controlled airspace without specific authorisation, providing it remains clear of flight restriction zones, prohibited/restricted/danger areas that are applicable to UAS, and any other restricted zones – and remains within 400 ft of the surface, and is compliant with all other relevant UAS regulations.


  1. I now have a permission from the CAA, but are there other considerations to take

into account before I can operate lawfully? What role do separate Statutory Bodies play?

A CAA Permission for drone flights only addresses the flight safety aspects of the flight and does not constitute permission to disregard the legitimate interests of other statutory bodies such as the Police and Emergency Services, the Highway Agency, local authorities or any other statutory body. As the range and scale of drone operations continues to grow, statutory bodies are increasingly cognisant of how drone operations will affect their areas of responsibility and are developing specific policy and guidelines.

In addition to aviation-specific legislation, it is already apparent that drone use, or the effects of drone use, may be construed to be encompassed within the remit of existing national and local

legislation (e.g. public-order offences, ensuring pedestrian and vehicle rights-of-way, security and safety in public places and at schools, limits on recreational activities in public parks etc).

It should be remembered that any drone operator who does not have a CAA permission, is required to keep the drone at least 150 metres from congested areas or any organised, open-air assembly of more than 1,000 persons. Even with the standard CAA permission, remote pilots must not fly within 50 metres of any person, vessel, vehicle or structure that is not under the control of the SUA operator or the remote pilot (during take-off and landing this distance from people may be reduced to 30 metres).

Drone operators should also be mindful of the requirements of Section 76(1) of the Civil Aviation Act 1982 in relation to trespass and nuisance, noting that they must comply, at all times, with the requirements of the Air Navigation Order and that the height of each relevant flight will be subject to a reasonableness test.

Operators must be aware of their responsibilities regarding operations from private land and any requirements to obtain the appropriate permission before operating from a particular site. In particular, they must ensure that they observe the relevant trespass laws and do not unwittingly commit a trespass whilst conducting a flight.

  1. I am an overseas drone operator and want to work in the UK; what do I have to do to

be able to temporarily complete an assignment in the UK?

The CAA is on occasion able to grant a temporary permission for commercial operations. This will depend on the evidence of ‘pilot competency’ that the applicant is able to provide and the location(s) where the flying is to take place. Foreign operators must also provide a copy of their Operations Manual that demonstrates how they will comply with UK regulations for the operation of their UAS. All documentation supplied to the CAA for assessment must be in English.

Each application is considered on its own merits. If a Foreign Permission is more restrictive than the UK Permission, then that standard will apply to the UK permission issued, if granted.

Applications should be made on the SRG 1320 application form (see the CAA website and information should also be supplied about the scope of the operation and where and when it will take place? In the majority of cases, only the ‘Standard’ CAA permission is granted and this favours aircraft weighing no more than 20kg (44 lbs). Any aircraft weighing more than 20kg (44 lbs) are subject to a more involved process and are more difficult to approve. All applications should be made as far in advance as possible.

The applicants will also have to provide an acceptable level of insurance cover for the intended operation, which meets the requirements of Regulation EC785/2004.

  1. Experimental research drones, drones under development for commercial use and

drone flight demonstrations

The CAA recognises that drone technology development and flight operations comprise a fast- moving, diverse and innovative field suitable for imaginative new concepts with considerable commercial potential. To enable this development, we do not wish to place undue restrictions on the development of new drone applications and concepts, other than those that are deemed necessary in the interests of public safety.

In most cases, self-funded or research drones developed by institutions such as Universities or private businesses can be regarded as non-commercial as long as they are not employed in providing a paid service to a third party. Despite this and depending on the application being considered, operators of such drones will still need to get the permission of the CAA if they cannot

meet the limitations contained in ANO Articles 94 and 95. This is particularly true for heavier, longer-range drones that are intended to fly beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS).

If you believe your drone may fall into this category, you should consider using the Operational Safety Case (OSC) system described in CAP 722 (Volume 1 to 3). The OSC is an involved process and it currently comprises a desk-top assessment by CAA technical staff and may involve further flight demonstrations to support the application. It is envisaged that during the flight assessment the applicant will have to demonstrate that the aircraft is fit to undertake the scope of the operation proposed, that they have the requisite aircraft systems knowledge and procedures for safe operation and that the pilot and aircraft are able to complete various complex manoeuvres and utilise all flight modes of the aircraft.

Applicants should note that the OSC will not be suitable for all current permission holders; it is intended as an advanced assessment and test which may require custom-built aircraft or specific aircraft capabilities. The justification of choice of aircraft versus the particular risks of the type of operation proposed, and the ability of the applicant to meet stringent pilot skill requirements will be key factors in making the assessment. It is down to each applicant to make a coherent case and advance arguments supported by data whenever possible. For applications that pose particular risks to uninvolved third-parties, there should be no supposition that the OSC application will ultimately be approved and each applicant’s business models should allow for this possibility.

The CAA cannot advise the applicant on how to complete an OSC as the CAA does not provide an advisory/ consultancy service in this regard.

  1. Radio and Transmission Equipment licences

It is the responsibility of the operator to ensure that the radio spectrum used for the command and control link and for any payload communications complies with the relevant Ofcom requirements and that any licenses required for its operation have been obtained. It is also the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that the appropriate aircraft radio licence has been obtained for any transmitting radio equipment that is installed or carried on the aircraft, or that is used in connection with the conduct of the flight and that operates in an aeronautical band.

  1. Police use of drones

The Police use of drones comes under civil aviation legislation and their operators work under the same safety criteria applied to commercial permission holders. Exemptions may on occasion be granted to the emergency services when in the public interest and when there is no major departure from what is still considered to be an acceptable level of risk in any particular circumstance. Due to their existing statutory powers, the Police already have the means to limit and control access at certain sites and events (accidents, cordons etc).

  1. Indoor use

The applicability of the regulations with regard to flights within buildings has been clarified recently. Under the CAA Act 1982, the Air Navigation Order is made for the purposes of regulating air navigation. 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.

  1. What about flying drones in other European countries; is the EU going to introduce

pan-European rules for civil drone operations?

The EU is currently in the process of developing harmonised regulations for drone use, but they have not yet been completed. An outline of the overall intent and principles for these harmonised regulations can be found in an ‘Opinion’ published by EASA in February 2018 here . For any questions relating to Brexit, please see the CAA EU Exit Website, .

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