The flight of any “drone” or aircraft model in the UK is covered by the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) regulations.
There is a set of basic regulations for the piloting of unmanned aircraft in the UK. By operating within these limits, you will remain in the “open category” which means you do not need CAA clearance to fly. If you intend to operate outside any of these limits, you must first obtain an Exploitation Authorization.
See the advice on the specific category for more information.
The basic requirements for flying in the open category are outlined below:
- You must pass the online test and hold a Flyer-ID, you must register as a UAS operator and display your operator ID on your UAS
- You are responsible for safely piloting your UAS
- You must keep the UAS in your direct view 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 anything with your UAS
- You must not fly more than 400ft / 120m above the surface
- You must not fly in the flight restriction zone of a protected aerodrome, or in any other airspace restriction without authorization. More information on airspace restrictions
- Your UAS must weigh less than 25Kg
We have a series of information sheets to explain the rules that will apply to your flight:
- Flying for fun CAP2003
- Flying in leisure and in club CAP2004
- Using a drone for work CAP2005
- Flying in the countryside CAP2006
- Flying in the city CAP2007
- The difference with the new 2020 CAP2008 regulation
The full set of rules you need to know are detailed on the Drone and Model Aircraft Registration and Education System (DMARES) web pages. You must pass this test before you can fly your drone outdoors. There are a few exceptions to this, which are detailed in the DMARES pages.
The Open category is divided into three “subcategories”, in order to specify certain rules for different types of flight. Which category you fall into depends on what type of drone you want to fly and how you want to fly it.
- A1: Fly over people;
- A2: Fly “near” people;
- A3: Fly “away from” people;
You must always obey the rules of the subcategory in which you are traveling.
Most people who fly a UAS away from people in the middle of the countryside will meet basic Category A3 requirements – these are similar to the old UK rules that were previously in place. A comparison of these rules and the new rules is available in our CAP2008 sheet. Categories A1 and A2 allow you to fly closer to people, but with more restrictions.
All the requirements to fly in the Open category are presented in our CAP2012 information sheet
From January 1, 2023, new drones will have to meet a set of product standards, and some may do so before then. These will be rated from C0 to C4, depending on the weight and capacity of the drone, and will determine how and where you can fly.
- Drones classified as C0 or C1 can fly in the open subcategory A1
- Drones classified C2 can be flown in subcategory A2 or A3 – but if you fly in “A2”, you must pass the A2 theory exam (A2 Certificate of Competency or “A2 CofC”)
- Drones classified C3 and C4 can only fly in subcategory A3
Until January 2023 if your drone does not have a class marking, you can fly it in the following categories:
- Drones under 250g can fly in the A1 subcategory (there are also some exceptions for drones up to 500g).
- Drones weighing less than 2 kg can fly in subcategory A2, but you must stand at least 50 meters from people and pass the A2 theory test (A2 Certificate of Competency or ‘A2 CofC’). If you did not pass the A2 theory exam, you can only fly these drones in the A3 subcategory.
- Drones of 2 kg or more can only fly in the A3 subcategory.
After January 1, 2023, you can continue to fly an unmarked “old” drone in the following categories:
- Drones under 250g can continue to fly in the A1 subcategory.
- All other drones should only be used in subcategory A3.
The regulations that define the requirements for UAS operations in the UK are contained in:
- The Air Navigation Ordinance 2016 (as amended). A consolidated version can be found in CAP2038A00. Full details of the applicable regulations within the ANO that apply to UAS, can be found in CAP722.
- Regulation (EU) 2019/947 as retained (and amended in UK domestic law) under the European Union Act 2018 (Withdrawal) – referred to as the “UAS Implementing Regulation”. A consolidated version of the UAS IR can be found in CAP 1789A.
- Regulation (EU) 2019/945 as retained (and amended in UK domestic law) under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 – referred to as “the UAS Delegated Regulation”. A consolidated version of the UAS DR can be found in CAP 1789B.
First person view
Unmanned aircraft equipped with video cameras often provide the ability to transmit ‘live’ video to the remote pilot through a cell phone, tablet or other display, or even through video glasses – this capability provides the pilot with a nickname “Pilot’s eye view” of the UAS itself and is generally referred to as a “first person view” (FPV).
The remote pilot should always keep the UAS in his unaided visual line of sight, but the FPV can be used when an observer is assisting the pilot remotely.
The law states:
“The remote pilot can be assisted by a UA observer who assists in keeping the unmanned aircraft clear of other aircraft and obstacles.
The UA observer should be located next to the remote pilot and observers should not use assisted vision (eg binoculars).
UA observers can also be used when the remote pilot is performing UAS operations in first person view (FPV), which is a method used to control the UA using a visual system connected to the control camera. the AU. In all cases, the remote pilot remains responsible for the safety of the flight.
UAS implementing regulations – UAS.OPEN.060
Note: Images captured by a camera and displayed on a flat screen provide the pilot with little depth perception and no peripheral vision. This can make it difficult for the pilot to accurately assess speed and distance and maintain sufficient awareness of the area around the aircraft to effectively “see and avoid” obstacles and other aircraft. Therefore, the use of FPV equipment is not acceptable. mitigation for flight beyond line-of-sight unless the operator concerned has received specific clearance to do so from the CAA.
Flights inside buildings have no impact on air navigation as they cannot have any effect on air plane flights in the open. Therefore, flights inside buildings or in areas where there is no possibility for unmanned aircraft to “escape” into the open air (such as a “closed” mesh structure). are not subject to air navigation legislation. Persons intending to operate unmanned aircraft indoors should refer to the appropriate occupational health and safety regulations.
Other legitimate interests
UAS operators must fully consider all other applicable restrictions and the legitimate interests of other statutory bodies such as local authorities, many of which have established local regulations. These regulations often restrict the take-off / landing of UAS from council lands. Such a restriction, in itself, is not an airspace restriction and therefore is not considered a UAS geographic area.
It is important to distinguish between the authorization required to operate from communal lands and the authorization required to operate in certain parts of the airspace. If a UAS operator is authorized by a council to operate on its land, it does not necessarily mean that it has permission to fly. UAS operators and remote pilots should be aware of any restrictions that may affect their flight and request all necessary clearances before beginning operations. A local authority clearance under a bylaw may be just one of many required clearances, such as a clearance to fly in an FRZ, or a CAA clearance to fly in the specific category.
The CAA cannot provide advice on what is or is not a legitimate interest or whether restrictions or fees are legally imposed by other authorities. However, any regulatory authority or body should be able to identify specific laws, regulations or orders that allow it to regulate the use of UAS, or more generally, the lands from which they are exploited, such as the established the CAA. the regulations it applies, above. We recommend that if you are unsure whether an agency restriction legitimately applies to your flight, you request this information from the relevant regulatory authority or body.
UAS operators and remote pilots are also reminded that Article 241 of the ANO states that a person shall not recklessly or negligently cause or allow an aircraft to endanger a person. or a good.