Unlike small drones, 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).
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.
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 providedFor 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.
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 for an exemption under article 266 of the ANO are listed within the CAA Scheme of Charges for General Aviation.
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