On 31 December 2020 the UK moves to a new set of rules for unmanned aircraft.
For many people the basic rules on their day-to-day flying won’t change but there are some important new drone rules that users need to be aware of.
The key elements of always keeping your drone in sight, not flying above 120m (400ft) and staying clear of airfield restricted areas (unless you have specific permission to use them) remain unchanged.
The new rules focus on the risk of the flight. The risk is based on the weight and type of the drone, and where it is being flown. These factors alone decide what you can do and whether you need a CAA authorisation for your flying.
This is a change from what we have currently where many of the requirements for needing permission are based on whether you are being paid to fly your drone(PfCO), or if it has a camera fitted to it.
The new Drone Rules set out three categories of flying
You must always operate within one of these three categories
Open – ‘basic flying’ which does not require an authorisation from the CAA;
Specific – more complex operations, which require an operational authorisation;
Certified – complex operations, which require the use of a certified UAS, operator, and a licenced remote pilot.
You can find details of these and other updates at caa.co.uk/drones
The same new rules are also being introduced to EU countries at the same time as the UK so there will now be very similar rules across most of Europe.
If your Drone weighs less than 250g…
Previously, if you flew drones under 250g then you didn’t need to register as an operator. Under the new rules from 31 December 2020 if your drone is under 250g and has a camera then you will need to register as an operator and renew this annually. The only exception to this is for drones which are toys. The law doesn’t require you to also obtain a flyer ID but the CAA strongly recommend that you do. It is free and gives you an overview of the rules to keep your flying safe and legal.
You can register and gain a flyer ID at Register-drones.caa.co.uk