If you fly a drone then you must follow the Drone Code
Please note: From 31 December 2020 the rules for flying drones will be the same in the UK and all European member states. The rules don’t apply if you are flying indoors. Below is a snapshot of the regulations and you are strongly advised to read the CAA’s full guide here.
The rules are based on the risk of the flight; where you fly, proximity to other people and the size and weight of your drone are key. There will no longer be a distinction between flying commercially and flying for pleasure or recreation. This means that an approval just to operate commercially is no longer required. If you are flying as part of a business then you should carefully read CAP722. Due to the rules on proximity to people and overflight of congested areas in most cases, if you have an existing operator authorisation from the CAA, you will still require one under the new regulations.
We have a PfCO from the CAA (number 3063) obtained in 2016 and renewed each year. This is now referered to as an Operational Authorisation within the Specific Category.
Summary of the new UK Drone Rules (CAP722)
The new rules are divided into three categories: Open, Specific and Certified.
The Open category is intended for low-risk drone flights, for example because you are flying a very light drone or are in the countryside. If you are flying in this category then you need no specific authorisation from the CAA. All of the rules also apply if you are flying at night.
The Open category is split into:
A1 (drones less than 250g): You may fly over people for a short time with your drone, as long as it is not a crowd;
A2: You must keep some distance from people, normally 30m. But this depends, among other things, on the drone you are flying (weight or class). To fly in the A2 sub category as well as passing the normal flyer ID online test you must also pass an additional written theory exam. And declare that you have gained some practical knowledge with your drone, but you do not have to take a practical exam.
A3: You must stay at least 50 metres horizontally away from people and 150 metres horizontally away from parks, industrial and built-up areas.
The Specific category is for higher risk flights such as flying a drone over an urban area. To fly in this category you will need an operational authorisation from the CAA.
The Certified category is for large unmanned aircraft, for example transporting parcels above the city, that are subject to higher levels of approval and regulation.
From 1 January 2023 new drones will have to meet a set of standards. These will be labelled from C0 to C4, based on the weight and capability of the drone, and will determine how and where you can fly.
Drones classed C0 or C1 can be flown in the A1 sub category. For C2 it’s A2 sub category or A3 and for C3 and C4 you can only fly in the A3 sub category.
Until January 2023 and if your drone doesn’t have a class marking, if your drone is under 500g you can fly in the A1 sub category as long as you have also passed the A2 theory exam. Drones less than 2kg can use the A2 sub category, but you must keep at least 50 metres away from people and must also have passed the A2 theory exam. Un-classified drones of 2kg or greater may only be flown in the A3 sub category.
After 1 January 2023 for drones below 250g you can continue to use A1 sub category. All other current (un-classified) drones must be used in the A3 sub category.
Home-built drones weighing less than 250g and with a maximum speed of less than 42mph (68Km/h, 19m/s) can be flown in the A1 sub category. All other drones fit in the A3 sub category
Also, the ‘endangerment’ requirements of the Air Navigation Order 2016 article 241 still apply, ie ‘a person must not recklessly or negligently cause or permit an aircraft to endanger any person or property’. Click here for CAP393 details.