2019 Air Navigation order Update

DfT publishes amendments to the Air Navigation Order.

The Department for Transport (DfT) have today published further amendments to the Air Navigation Order which impact on all users of Small Unmanned Aircraft, including the model flying community.

Further details of the amendments can be found in CAP1763 (as the CAA have the unenviable task of implementing the legislation). You can read CAP1763 here:

Regrettably, the DfT have put us somewhat on the ‘back foot’ with this due to the speed with which they have introduced the amendment which also includes elements which they had not alerted us to. The changes have been expedited in reaction to incidents involving small unmanned aircraft at Gatwick and Heathrow in the last couple of months.

We have reported previously on the creation of flight restriction zones around protected aerodromes, the concept of which was introduced in the Government Response to the 2018 Consultation on Drones published earlier this year and these zones will come into effect from 13th March 2019. A useful interactive map of the UK has been created by NATS showing the protected aerodromes with the restriction zones superimposed. See for further details.

CAP1763 states that ‘the flight restriction zone is active at all times and applies to all small unmanned aircraft of any mass (even very small ‘toys’)’. This was a surprising development which would in theory even extend to paper aeroplanes.

If you wish to fly an unmanned aircraft within these restriction zones, then permission will have to be obtained from air traffic control at the aerodrome. The CAA expect such permissions to be based on a ‘constructive dialogue between the modellers/model clubs and the relevant aerodrome’ and formalised in a letter of agreement/memorandum of understanding.

One slight benefit included in this ANO update is that the existing restriction on flying unmanned aircraft over 7kg below 400ft in controlled airspace has now been removed, as the new restrictions apply to all unmanned aircraft up to 20Kg and maintain the 400ft limit for all unmanned aircraft.

We are seeking clarification and answers to a number of questions we have posed to the DfT and CAA on behalf of our members. We hope to receive answers this week and will publish further updates and clarification in due course.

Please contact Rob Buckley at if you need zany further advice/information/help.

Over 20Kg Weight Limit

Despite some rumours to the contrary, the weight limit for model aircraft needing an CAA exemption is still 20Kg dry. The limit will be changing to 25kg wet at some stage in the future (probably in 3 years or so), but not yet. When we have more concrete information, it will be widely communicated.

CAA Permission For Model Fying Over 400ft

The recent 2018 amendments to the Air Navigation Order will come into effect on the 30th July, making it illegal to operate any unmanned aircraft (including model aircraft) above 400ft.

The UK model flying associations (BMFA, SAA, LMA & FPVUK) have been working in close collaboration in ongoing negotiations with the Department for Transport (DfT) and Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and we are pleased to report that earlier today the CAA issued us with a joint ‘Permission’ to allow our members to continue operating ‘conventional’ model aircraft (excluding multi-rotors) weighing less than 7Kg at heights in excess of 400ft. The full text of this Permission can be viewed HERE.

The CAA has also issued an ‘Exemption’ to allow our members to operate ‘conventional’ model aircraft (excluding multi-rotors) weighing less than 3.5Kg at heights up to 1000ft using First Person View.  The full text of this Exemption can be viewed HERE.

Note that any model aircraft flying within 1km of the boundary of a licensed airfield at any height will have to be with the permission of the airfield air traffic control or airfield operator.

The Permission & Exemption will come into effect on the 30th July, but please note that they apply only to ‘conventional’ model aircraft (including helicopters) and do not exempt multirotor drones or unmanned aircraft with autonomous flight capability from the 400ft height limit.

It was only possible to achieve this result due to the recognition given by the DfT and CAA to the excellent safety record established by the model flying associations and our members over many years and we are grateful for their help and support in achieving such a positive outcome.

Today’s announcement is a great result for the UK model flying community and is the culmination of very significant collaborative efforts by the UK Model Flying Associations working together on behalf of our members.

400ft Height Limit in 2018 Air Navigation Order – Update

The latest meeting between the Department for Transport (DfT), Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and representatives from the UK Model Flying Associations took place yesterday afternoon at the DfT offices in London.

The most urgent matter to address was the recent change to the Air Navigation Order (ANO) which introduced (in Article 94A) a 400ft height limit on the operation of all Small Unmanned Aircraft (SUA) which will come into effect on the 30th July 2018. Whilst the changes to the ANO are largely aimed at regulating ‘drones’, the 400ft restriction will also apply to model aircraft below 7Kg. 

However, we are pleased to report that agreement was reached that the Model Flying Associations will collectively apply for an exemption from Article 94A to allow their members to continue operating model aircraft below 7Kg above 400ft as they do under the current ANO. The DfT and CAA were supportive of this course of action and did not foresee any reason why the exemption would not be in place in time for the 30th July.

Negotiations on the other changes introduced in the ANO, namely operator registration and online testing of pilots remain ongoing, but for now it is business as usual for members of the BMFA, LMA, SAA & FPVUK. Happy flying!

UK Government Drone Regulation Update

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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