Information from the CAA and BMFA
CAP658 - Model Aircraft: A Guide to Safe Flying
LEGAL CONTROLS OVER MODEL FLYING
The legal controls over model flying are governed by the UK's Air Navigation Order (ANO), which was re-instated in ANO 2016 and later amended in 2018.
On 30 May 2018, the United Kingdom Government published an amendment to the UK Air Navigation Order 2016 (ANO) which contains its changes to the legislation regarding the operation of small unmanned aircraft. The amendment is published as Statutory Instrument (SI) 2018 No. 623, entitled ‘The Air Navigation (Amendment) Order 2018. This can be found at: www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2018/623/made) . Some articles (parts) of the amendment came into force on 30 July 2018, but others take a further 16 months, coming into force on 30 November 2019 (including compulsory registration of certain models, primarily drones).
In simple terms, these regulations state that :
- You are responsible for flying your model aircraft in a safe manner
- You must keep the model aircraft 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 model aircraft, including any articles that you drop from it
- You must not fly at a height greater than 400ft above the surface unless permitted to by the CAA (Permission granted for BMFA Members to fly up to 1,000 ft, subject to certain conditions) - see further details below
- If your model 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
The full regulations are shown below.
Article 241 - 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 94 - small unmanned aircraft requirements
(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 remote pilot of a small unmanned aircraft may only fly the aircraft if reasonably satisfied that the flight can safely be made.
(3) The remote pilot 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) If a small unmanned aircraft 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, the SUA operator must not cause or permit the aircraft to be flown, and the remote pilot in charge of the aircraft must not fly it-
(a) in Class A, C, D or E airspace unless the permission of the appropriate air traffic control unit has been obtained; or
(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;
(4A) Paragraph (4) does not apply to any flight within the flight restriction zone of a protected aerodrome (within the meaning given in article 94B).
(5) The SUA operator must not cause or permit a small unmanned aircraft to be flown for the purposes of commercial operations, and the remote pilot of a small unmanned aircraft must not fly it for the purposes of commercial operations, except in accordance with a permission granted by the CAA.
Article 94A – small unmanned aircraft; height restrictions on flights
(1) The SUA operator must not cause or permit a small unmanned aircraft to be flown at a height of more than 400 feet above the surface, and the remote pilot of a small unmanned aircraft must not fly it at a height of more than 400 feet above the surface, unless the permission of the CAA has been obtained.
(2) This article does not apply to any flight within the flight restriction zone of a protected aerodrome (within the meaning given in article 94B).
Article 94B – small unmanned aircraft: restrictions on flights that are over or near aerodromes
(1) This article applies to a flight by a small unmanned aircraft within the flight restriction zone of a protected aerodrome.
(2) The “flight restriction zone” of a protected aerodrome consists of the following two zones-
(a) the “Inner Zone”, which is the area within, and including, the boundary of the aerodrome;
(b) the “Outer Zone”, which is the area between-
(i) the boundary of the aerodrome, and
(ii) a line that is 1 km from the boundary of the aerodrome (the “1 km line”).
(3) In the circumstances set out in an entry in column 1 of the following table-
(a) the SUA operator must not cause or permit the small unmanned aircraft to be flown in the Inner Zone or the Outer Zone, and
(b) the remote pilot of the small unmanned aircraft must not fly it in the Inner Zone or the Outer Zone, if the flight breaches a flight restriction set out in the entry in column 3 of the table which relates to that zone in those circumstances.
(4) The 1 km line is to be drawn so that the area which is bounded by it includes every location that is 1 km from the boundary of the aerodrome, measured in any direction from any point on the boundary.
(5) In this article, “protected aerodrome” means-
(a) an EASA certified aerodrome;
(b) a Government aerodrome;
(c) a national licensed aerodrome; or
(d) an aerodrome that is prescribed or of a prescribed description.
Article 95 - small unmanned surveillance aircraft
(1) The SUA operator must not cause or permit a small unmanned surveillance aircraft to be flown in any of the circumstances described in paragraph (2), and the remote pilot of a small unmanned surveillance aircraft must not fly it in any of those circumstances, 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 SUA operator or the remote pilot 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 remote pilot of the small unmanned surveillance aircraft or a person under the control of the remote pilot 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.
Model aircraft with a mass of more than 20kg are termed ‘Large Model Aircraft’ - within the UK, large model aircraft may only be flown in accordance with an Exemption from the ANO, which must be issued by the CAA.
ARTICLE 94A, 400ft height limitation - less than 7kg models' permission & FPV exemption FOR BMFA MEMBERS
1) The CAA issued a ‘Permission’ to allow BMFA members to continue operating ‘conventional’ model aircraft (excluding multi-rotors) weighing less than 7Kg at heights in excess of 400ft, under certain circumstances. This is highly relevant to gliders. The full text of this Permission can be viewed HERE.
2) The CAA has also issued an ‘Exemption’ to allow BMFA members to operate ‘conventional’ model aircraft (excluding multi-rotors) weighing less than 3.5Kg at heights up to 1000ft using First Person View, under certain circumstances. The full text of this Exemption can be viewed HERE.