• How the regulations apply to you

    Unlike small unmanned aircraft, unmanned aircraft with an operating mass of more than 20 kg are subject to the whole of the UK Aviation regulations (as listed within the UK Air Navigation Order - ANO), although they may be exempted from certain requirements by the CAA. 

    Because of this, any person intending to operate an unmanned aircraft with a mass of more than 20kg within the UK must obtain a specific authorisation, in the form of an exemption from some of the requirements of the ANO before any flight can take place.    

    In most cases, an application, along with an appropriate safety case, must be made directly to the CAA.  For Large Model Aircraft however (by which we mean those built and used purely for recreational purposes), the Large Model Association (LMA) conducts the initial technical inspection and assessment on our behalf and should be your first point of call.

    Due to the greater size and/or capability of the aircraft concerned, there are likely to be additional airspace aspects to be considered, such as the need for segregated airspace (unless the operation is only intended to be within VLOS).

    Exemptions

    If you are considering operating a UAS with a mass of greater that 20kg within UK airspace, full details and requirements are contained within our UAS guidance document CAP 722. As with the requirements for smaller UAS, the application will need to be accompanied by an Operating Safety Case (OSC), which should demonstrate to us your reasoning as to why the intended operation is safe enough.

    Please note that the UK CAA is not currently accepting the SORA methodology as a risk assessment means to obtain an authorisation to operate an Unmanned Aircraft System. This is because the SORA is still under internal consultation within JARUS and has not been published for public use. EASA has also stated that the SORA in its current form is not be used to conduct operational risk assessments, as it is still under review. The SORA will only be accepted as a methodology once it has been accepted and adopted by EASA within the EU framework, as an acceptable means of compliance.

    UAS operators wishing to obtain an authorisation should refer to CAP 722 Appendix D for the risk assessment methodology which is acceptable to the CAA. Should an applicant chose a different methodology, then a robust and reasoned rationale must also be provided

    For large model aircraft (ie. those being made and flown purely for recreational purposes) see CAP 658.

    In some cases, the CAA may publish one or more ‘General Exemptions’ which authorise certain types of larger UAS operations to be undertaken, under specifically defined circumstances, without the need to make a full application to the CAA. Details of General Exemptions are published in the Official Record Series 4 section of the CAA’s website.   

    How to apply

    Please follow the information provided in our guidance on how to apply and submit your application.  Details of where to send the application are contained in the SRG 1320 application form.

    Applications must also include the appropriate payment as well as full details of the requested operation (in the form of an operations manual) and the Operating Safety Case.

    Our charges

    Our charges for an exemption under article 266 of the ANO are listed within the CAA Scheme of Charges for General Aviation.

    • The charges for Large Model Aircraft can be found at paragraph 3.4
    • The charges for all other Unmanned Aircraft over 20kg can be found at paragraph 3.11