Latest UK regulations for drones

We hope you find this guide useful for future bookings

This guide is designed to inform buyers of aerial services what the rules and regulations are that govern the safe operation of drone services. We've tried to keep this guide informative but easy to digest. If there is anything you feel that is missing or if you have a recommendation, drop us a line.

Summary

  • The commerical use of drones in the UK began in January 2010.
  • UK airspace is governed by the Civil Aviation Authority.
  • Commercial licenses are issued by the CAA. They are valid for up to 12 months.
  • Reglations are constantly being updated as we evolve the use of UK airspace. Check back here to keep ontop of the latest rules that govern drone use.

A brief history of UK drone regulations

A commercial license is granted by the Civil Aviation Authority on the successful completion of the following steps:

  • Demonstrate a sufficient understanding of aviation theory (airmanship, airspace, aviation law and good flying practice)
  • Pass a practical flight assessment (flight test)
  • Develop basic procedures for conducting the type of flights you want to do and set these out in an Operations Manual

The license often referred to as a PFAW is valid for up to 12 months and is subject to annual renewal. Operators are required to reapply for their license 30 days prior to the expiry date of their permission. We provide permission expiry dates on all operators profiles.

The Regulation

Anyone using a small drone in the UK is subject to the following regulations outlined in the Air Navigation Order. The specifics for drones use include:

  • Article 137 - endagering safety of an aircraft
  • Article 138 - endangering safety of any person or property
  • Article 166 - small unmanned aircraft
  • Article 167 - small unmanned surveillance aircraft
  • Article 255 - for the meanings of 'aerial work' and 'small unmanned aircraft'

We have oulined the regulations in brief below. Please refer to the full Air Navigation Order for complete documentation.

Article 137 - endagering safety of an aircraft
A person must not recklessly or negligently act in a manner likely to endanger an aircraft, or any person in an aircraft.
Article 138 - endangering safety of any person or property
A person must not recklessly or negligently cause or permit an aircraft to endanger any person or property.
Article 166 - small unmanned aircraft
(1) A person must not cause or permit any article or animal (whether or not attached to a parachute) to be dropped from a small unmanned aircraft so as to endanger persons or property.
(2) The person in charge of a small unmanned aircraft may only fly the aircraft if reasonably satisfied that the flight can safely be made.
(3) The person in charge of a small unmanned aircraft must maintain direct, unaided visual contact with the aircraft sufficient to monitor its flight path in relation to other aircraft, persons, vehicles, vessels and structures for the purpose of avoiding collisions.
(4) The person in charge of a small unmanned aircraft which has a mass of more than 7kg excluding its fuel but including any articles or equipment installed in or attached to the aircraft at the commencement of its flight, must not fly the aircraft:
  • (a) in Class A, C, D or E airspace unless the permission of the appropriate air traffic control unit has been obtained;
  • (b) within an aerodrome traffic zone during the notified hours of watch of the air traffic control unit (if any) at that aerodrome unless the permission of any such air traffic control unit has been obtained; or
  • (c) at a height of more than 400 feet above the surface unless it is flying in airspace described in sub-paragraph (a) or (b) and in accordance with the requirement for that airspace.
(5) The person in charge of a small unmanned aircraft must not fly the aircraft for the purposes of aerial work except in accordance with a permission granted by the CAA.
Article 167 - small unmanned surveillance aircraft
(1) The person in charge of a small unmanned surveillance aircraft must not fly the aircraft in any of the circumstances described in paragraph (2) except in accordance with a permission issued by the CAA.
(2) The circumstances referred to in paragraph (1) are:
  • (a) over or within 150 metres of any congested area;
  • (b) over or within 150 metres of an organised open-air assembly of more than 1,000 persons;
  • (c) within 50 metres of any vessel, vehicle or structure which is not under the control of the person in charge of the aircraft; or
  • (d) subject to paragraphs (3) and (4), within 50 metres of any person.
(3) Subject to paragraph (4), during take-off or landing, a small unmanned surveillance aircraft must not be flown within 30 metres of any person.
(4) Paragraphs (2)(d) and (3) do not apply to the person in charge of the small unmanned surveillance aircraft or a person under the control of the person in charge of the aircraft.
(5) In this article ‘a small unmanned surveillance aircraft’ means a small unmanned aircraft which is equipped to undertake any form of surveillance or data acquisition.
Article 255 - Meaning of aerial work
(1) Subject to paragraph (2) and Part 34, aerial work means any purpose, other than commercial air transport or public transport, for which an aircraft is flown if valuable consideration is given or promised for the flight or the purpose of the flight.
(2) If the only such valuable consideration consists of remuneration for the services of the pilot the flight is deemed to be a private flight for the purposes of Part 3 and Part 4.
(3) Aerial work consists of instruction or testing in a club environment if it consists of the giving of instruction in flying or the conducting of flying tests for the purposes of this Order in an aircraft owned by, operated by or operated under arrangements entered into by a flying club of which the person giving the instruction or conducting the test and the person receiving the instruction or undergoing the test are both members.
Article 255 - Meaning of small unmanned aircraft
(1) Means any unmanned aircraft, other than a balloon or a kite, having a mass of not more than 20kg without its fuel but including any articles or equipment installed in or attached to the aircraft at the commencement of its flight.