Logs, Authorisations and Currency

Aircraft Logs

It is a requirement of over 25kg authorisations and over 25kg flight test permits that the operator ensures-

  • That records are kept of any substantive maintenance activities on the entire aircraft system.
  • That records of each flight made are maintained and make such records available to the Civil Aviation Authority on request as set out in point UAS.SPEC.090 of Regulation (EU) 2019/947 as retained in UK law.

Note that the ‘entire aircraft system’ now includes the transmitter as that is a reasonably important part of operating the aircraft.

The log should be individual to each aircraft and stay with the aircraft if it changes ownership, giving the full history of the aircraft from first flight to (hopefully) well-earned retirement.

The CAA have not specified what needs to be recorded and in what format, but CAP722 gives in Section B3.1.5 ‘Record keeping’ the requirements for operations in the Specific Category, the category under which all over 25kg model aircraft are operated.

  • Flight activities for each UAS should be recorded by the UAS operator within a logbook.
  • The logbook may be generated in either electronic or paper formats.
    If the paper format is used, it should contain, in a single volume, all the pages needed to log the holder’s flight time. When one volume is completed, a new one will be started based on the cumulative data from the previous one.
  • Records should be stored for 2 years in a manner that ensures their protection from unauthorised access, damage, alteration, and theft.
  • The following information must be recorded:
    • the identification of the UAS (manufacturer, model/variant, serial number);
    • the date, time, and location of the take-off and landing;
    • the duration of each flight;
    • the total number of flight hours/cycles;
    • the name of the remote pilot responsible for the flight;
    • the activity performed;
    • any significant incident or accident that occurred during the operation;
    • a completed pre-flight inspection;
    • any defects and rectifications;
    • any repairs and changes to the UAS configuration

It is therefore not unreasonable to expect that this is the level of record keeping that will be needed to satisfy the requirement.

A template excel format logbook can be downloaded  here  to record the required information. The red shaded sections automatically complete.

Flying at a Display – Pilot Currency

It is a requirement that before flying in a display, you are current in your practical flying competence, the requirement being-

Any model aircraft pilot operating a ‘large model aircraft’, or a jet turbine powered model aircraft of any mass, for the purpose of a ‘model aircraft flying display’, must be able to demonstrate sufficient currency of pilot competence, by having flown as a minimum, three complete display routines, within the preceding 90 days of the ‘model aircraft flying display’, one of which must have been flown within the preceding 30 days, on an aircraft which is reasonably representative of the aircraft to be flown within the display event.

Although the formal requirement only applies to remote pilots of over 25kg and /or gas turbine powered aircraft, it is reasonable to expect that everyone flying any model aircraft at a display has at least this level of currency.

As very few people have a fixed ‘display routine’ to practice, flights of similar length and similar type of flying as you would expect to do at the display will be sufficient. If you fly in a team, you don’t have to do your ‘currency’ flights with the team, but if flying a close formation or ‘synchronised’ display, you should be current in that type of flying.

You know how your ‘display’ aircraft fly and handle (e.g. fast and twitchy or slow and ponderous) so it is up to you to be able to justify if needed how the aircraft you carry out practice flights are ‘reasonably representative’. If you fly multiple aircraft in a display, you will need to be able to justify how you are current on each aircraft you fly.

At a display it is likely that you will need to self-declare you are current, but as there are no mandatory logbooks for flying model aircraft, it will be up to you to be able to prove if necessary (to the Judge if things go really badly) that you have actually met the minimum currency requirements. You could of course lie, and nobody would know, but it may not go quite as well in your defence.

The most important thing is to have flown outside on a real aeroplane, not a simulator.

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