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UK Drone Users Required to Register – New Regulations 2017

New regulations by the CAA have been issued tightening up drone restiration proceedures as well as the issuing of more stringent operating regulations.

Since the advent of Drones in the UK British fliers have been able to fly a drone freely without first registering them and passing a safety test that is administered. After a series of scares, near-misses and injuries the CAA have been forced to consider FAA style regulations due to increasing government and public pressure.

Research shows that anything that weighs more than 60 grams and hits a plane that is in motion, can cause serious damage to the plane and leave it along with its passengers in a dangerous situation. While there have not been any reported accidents, the frequency of incidents and the reckless flying of many consumer drone pilots has forced the CAA’s hand.

Ultimately officials in the UK want to keep collisions from happening. To help minimize the potential that there will be any type of crash, anyone who owns a UAV or unmanned aerial vehicle that weighs more than 250 grams will need to officially register it with the government. Like all UK bureaucracy it ain’t free, so owners of the UAV will have to pay. Those owners who use their UAV leisurely will need to take and pass a competency test to ensure that they have the ability to fly their UAV as safely as possible.

Plans for the new implementation of registering and safety testing were presented in a Department of Transport document. Its aim was to explore the safe use of drones that are flown by both amateurs and professionals. Due to the increased prevalence of Drone’s in the consumer market, some of the biggest changes that occur will affect people who use drones for their personal use.

While there is no indication of how much the charge to register the drones will be, the government document does state that it is highly likely that where will be a charge to register them. The document continues on to say that there is still no decision about whether each drone owned by an individual will need to be registered or if one registration will be enough with an unlimited number of drones owned.

 

How the regulations will impact you

Will it increase the likelihood of prosecution?

A Freedom of Information Act request sent to the Federal Aviation Administration showed that there had been no enforcement action taken against anyone registered on the drone database in more than 12 months.

Furthermore research conducted by the CAA suggests that 53% of people thought that there would be little to no enforcement or prosecution against those not following the new regulations.

 

What are these new Regulations?

In simple terms, these regulations state that:

  • you are responsible for flying your drone in a safe manner
  • you must keep the drone in your direct sight at all times while it is flying, so that you can ensure that it does not collide with anything, especially other aircraft
  • you must not endanger anyone, or any thing with your drone, including any articles that you drop from it
  • if your drone weighs more than 7kg, additional rules apply if you fly in certain types of airspace and you must not fly above 400ft above the surface
  • If your drone is fitted with a camera, there are also a number of additional limitations surrounding where you can fly it, and how close you can fly it to other uninvolved people or objects. In order to be able to fly within these areas, or closer than the minimum distances that are in the regulations, you must obtain prior Permission from the CAA to do so.

 

How does it Impact FPV?

Drones that are fitted with video cameras often provide an opportunity to downlink ‘live’ video to the person flying the drone either via a mobile phone, tablet computer or other screen, or even through video goggles – this capability provides the operator with a pseudo ‘pilots eye view’ from the drone itself and is generally given the term ‘First Person view’ (FPV). 

However, the law [at ANO article 94(3)] requires that the person in charge of a drone must maintain direct unaided visual contact with the aircraft which is sufficient to monitor its flight path so that collisions may be avoided.  This is obviously not possible if that person is wearing video goggles or otherwise constantly monitoring a display.  Therefore, FPV flight is only permitted if the activity has been approved by the CAA.  A General Exemption has been issued which allows an element of ‘First Person View’ (FPV) flight to be conducted.  

Guidance on the exemption and the conditions that must be observed whilst employing this privilege.

If you wish to conduct an FPV flight which cannot be accommodated within the terms of this General Exemption, then you will need to apply to the CAA for an exemption to do so.

How does it impact indoor toy/fun flying

The regulations make no distinction between flights made indoors or in the open; the whole safety criteria continue to apply.  Notwithstanding this, certain hazard factors are heavily mitigated by the fact that the aircraft is flying in an enclosed environment and access to the venue can be controlled.  People within the building, and who may be exposed to a hazard by the flight, should meet the criteria for ‘persons under the control of the person in charge of the aircraft’ or else have safety precautions taken on their account (e.g. safety netting, tethered drone, etc).

Minor indoor recreational use of a very small and light ‘toy’ drones is not generally regarded as having the same safety implications as for larger drones used outdoors.

 

How can I best fly safely and follow new regulation?

  • Go to the CAA Website and check the regulations
  • uk is a very useful website with many of the regulation
  • Download Drone Assist a new app developed by NATS

Here is a slightly outdated video issued by the CAA on simple Drone Regulations

Conclusions

The big new news is the registration aspect, many of the regulations are simply carried over from model flying regulations. Interestingly the US currently no longer has an active drone registry for amateurs, due to some concerns because model aircrafts were considered to be drones. The US now only has a commercial drone registry in place.

The Department of Transport has worked closely with the Civil Aviation Authority to develop a drone code that was launched last year. There are six main principles to the code and should be followed at all times:

– You are responsible for each flight

– Always keep your drone in your sight

– Stay well away from airports, aircrafts, and airfields

– Every time you fly your drone, you must follow the manufacturer’s instructions

– Stay below 400 feet to comply with the drone code

– Keep your distance from people and property

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