An update to the current status of the UK Model Flying Associations’ work with the UK Government on Drone regulation.
The Government have today announced proposed changes to the Air Navigation Order (ANO) to impose increased regulations on drone pilots.
The proposed changes are as follows:
– Operators of drones above 250g to be registered (effective from 30th Nov 2019). It is hoped that membership of one of the UK Model Flying Associations will satisfy this requirement.
– Drone operators will be required to take an on online safety test to verify their knowledge of the regulations (effective from 30th Nov 2019)
– A height limit of 400ft for all drone flights (effective from 30th July 2018). The 400ft height limit has been recommended by the CAA for some time in their Drone Code, but this was a recommendation rather than a legal requirement for drones below 7Kg. The revision to the ANO will now make this a legal requirement.
– A restriction from flying drones within 1km of protected aerodromes in the UK, unless with the permission of the Air Traffic Control unit in question (effective from 30th July 2018).
The UK Model Flying Associations have been working together in close liaison to protect the rights of the model flying community who have established an excellent safety record over the last century of operations.
In answer to a recent Parliamentary Question tabled by the UK Model Flying Associations, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department for Transport said-
“The Government recognises the long-standing safety culture adopted by model flying associations. We are working with the Civil Aviation Authority and model aircraft flying associations to explore ways in which we can reduce any unnecessary impacts of drone regulations on their activities.
We will be taking this approach to the draft Drone Bill, too. The draft Drone Bill will be accompanied by a public consultation which will cover the impact of the proposed Bill on all affected groups, including model aircraft flyers. The feedback from this consultation will be used to refine the Drone Bill before its introduction.”
Representatives of the BMFA, FPVUK & the LMA recently met with the DfT and CAA to start defining the details of how model flyers will be able to operate under the new requirements with minimal impact to their existing safe activities. Discussions are ongoing, but all parties are seeking to ensure that a pragmatic solution to meet the needs of all stakeholders will be in place to support the requirements coming into force.
The full DfT statement can be seen here-
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The Department for Transport today published their response to the consultation that was held earlier in the year on the use of drones.
What is disappointing is the level of response. Of the 678 responses the DfT received, only 213 were from model flyers, which is somewhere in the region of 0.6% of the model flyers in this country who are the member of a model flying association.
What is positive is that the DfT recognise the long and safe history of organised model flying (and for ‘club’ read ‘association’)-
‘The Government will work with model aircraft flying clubs to examine ways in which it may be possible to exempt members of model aircraft flying clubs with adequate safety cultures and practices from certain elements of registration and other educational requirements, or where their club will be permitted to undertake regulatory requirements on their behalf. Flyers of model aircraft who are not members of a club, or are members of a club not deemed to have adequate standards will, however, not be excluded from registration or other requirements.’
While there is also a stated desire to amend the Air Navigation Order 2016 to ‘ban all drones of 7kg or less in weight flying above 400ft or 122m’, the flying of model aircraft as today over 400ft should be part of a UK Operational Authorisation that will be negotiated with the CAA when the EASA requirements come into force.
While this response is a statement of intent, rather than final policy, the LMA will, in conjunction with the other UK model flying associations, continue to work with the DfT & the CAA to make sure that model flying is not negatively impacted by the government’s understandable desire to not have a very nasty accident caused by inappropriate use of Drones.
As you may or may not have seen, EASA have published an updated set or proposed rules for the operation of ‘Drones’ (which will include model aircraft)-
‘NPA 2017-05 Introduction of a regulatory framework for the operation of drones — Unmanned aircraft system operations in the open and specific category’
The period for submitting comments to this NPA is from 12 May to 12 August. I shall be submitting a response on behalf of the LMA, but I would encourage all of you to read all 128 pages and submit a response too.
As a note, when EASA say ‘Model clubs and associations’, the UK CAA are reading this as existing national associations with a track record, the LMA, BMFA, SAA & FPVUK. Little Whinging MFC does not count, nor will starting a new gang to try and get round it all!
As with other consultations & proposals, I’m not creating any ‘stock’ responses, your thoughts are what matter rather than a thousand identical responses. When responding, please be polite! As irritating as this is to us all, rude emails to the people who have been given the job of doing this don’t help.
Any questions, please let me know and I’ll do what I can.
Secretary – Large Model Association
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