• The information below explains how 'commercial operations' are defined, how to get assessed for a CAA permission and your responsibilities as a commercial operator.

  • The first thing to note is that in most cases this will not be possible without having at least an operational authorisation from the CAA which will allow some types of flights within congested areas.  

    On its own, the operational authorisation does not give the right to fly unhindered and you will still require permission from the owner, manager or authority for the land from which the unmanned aircraft will be taking off and landing. The minimum separation distances are stated on the operational authorisation.

    The CAA operational authorisation only addresses the flight safety aspects of the flight and does not constitute permission to disregard the legitimate interests of other statutory bodies such as the Police and Emergency Services, the Highway Agency, local authorities (and their agents) or any other statutory body.

    In order to exercise the necessary 'control' over a nearby public environment, it will often be necessary to contact the local authority to make suitable arrangements such as road-closures or other restrictions of access.  This is a normal part of ground-based filming in urban areas and the same procedures should be followed in the case of camera equipped unmanned aircraft.  Due to the lead times advisable for making such arrangements, Location Managers and production staff should start this process as early as possible.

    Guidance on filming is available from the British Film Commission (BFC)

    Guidance for filming in the UK:

    Detailed guidance on drone flying in London and other towns and cities can be found in CAP722.

    Due to the large number of possible circumstances, the CAA can only give general guidelines, however a person or people under the control of the UAS operator or remote pilot of an unmanned aircraft can generally be considered to be: 

    • Anyone present solely for the purpose of participating in the flight operation. 
    • Anyone under the control of the event or site manager who can reasonably be expected to follow directions and safety precautions to avoid unplanned interactions with the aircraft. Such people could include building-site or other industrial workers, film and TV production staff and any other pre-briefed, nominated individuals with an essential task to perform in relation to the event.

    Spectators or other people gathered for sports or other mass public events that have not been specifically established for the purpose of the UAS operation are generally not regarded as being 'under the control of the UAS operator or remote pilot'.

    In principle, someone who is under the control of the UAS operator or remote pilot at a mass public event must be able to: 

    • Decide to participate or not to participate; 
    • Broadly understand the risks involved; 

    • Have reasonable safeguards established for them by the site manager and unmanned aircraft operator during the period of operations; 
    • Not be restricted from taking part in the event or activity if they decide not to participate with the UAS operation. 

    To use an example: if filming with an unmanned aircraft at a large music festival or public event, it would not be sufficient for the audience/those present to be informed of the UAS operation via a public-address system, or in advance by e-mail or text. Those types of communication channels do not satisfy the points above. 

     

    Permission has occasionally been granted for unmanned aircraft flights at public events by special arrangement. These permissions have been extremely limited and usually involve a segregated take-off site with the unmanned aircraft operating only vertically within strict lateral limits. There is no allowance for direct over-flight of persons in these circumstances.

    Additional guidance regarding filming in towns and cities can be found in the link above

    Recognised Assessment Entities (RAEs) are established to assess the competence of people operating small unmanned aircraft as part of the CAA's process in granting operating permissions.  

    Assessment by an RAE is necessary for those with no previous aviation training or qualifications. To achieve this, RAEs may offer a short educational course/programme prior to the competency assessment aimed at bringing an individual's knowledge up to the required level (but please note that these are not CAA approved training courses).  

    A typical RAE full-course involves:

    • pre-entry/online study
    • 1-3 days of classroom lessons and exercises 
    • a written theory test 
    • a flight assessment 

    After successfully completing the theory element, applicants will:

    • develop his/her own operations manual 
    • practice aircraft operation/flying skills for the practical flight assessment. 

    Flight assessments are normally arranged and completed at your own pace:

    • they are usually arranged separately but may be available on the last day of the course
    • they have no structured syllabus or sequence of numbered exercises, but the test will be based on testing the procedures that have been described within the applicant's operations manual 

    Details of CAA approved assessment organisations (RAEs) are shown below.

    • 3iC Ltd (RAE)
    • Acme Helicopters Limited Trading As Dragon Drone Training (RAE)
    • Across Safety Development Ltd Trading As Across UAVs (RAE)
    • Aerial Motion Pictures Limited Trading As UAVHub (RAE)
    • Airborne Platforms UK Limited Trading As Airborne Platforms Uk (RAE)
    • Amber Tiger Holdings Ltd
    • ASSD Media Limited Trading As Pigs Can Fly (RAE)
    • ATEC-3D Ltd
    • AV8 Flight School Ltd (RAE)
    • Aviation Systems Group Ltd Trading As ASG
    • British School Of Aviation (RAE)
    • CLS Europe Ltd (RAE)
    • Colena Ltd Trading As Heliguy (RAE)
    • Commercial Drone Training Education Ltd (RAE)
    • Consortiq Limited Trading As Uavair (RAE)
    • DAC UK Limited Trading As Flyby Technology (RAE)
    • Drone Partners Limited 
    • Drone Pilot Academy Limited
    • Drone Training Limited (RAE) 
    • Eagle Eye Innovation Ltd Trading As RUSTA (RAE)
    • HALO Industries Ltd trading as Halo Drones (RAE)
    • Harbour Media Limited Trading As Osprey Drone Training (RAE)
    • Hummingbird Helicopters Limited Trading As Hummingbird UAV
    • INFRATEC-UK Limited (RAE)
    • iRed Limited (RAE)
    • Lancashire Fire And Rescue Service
    • Martek Drones Ltd Trading As COPTRZ (RAE)
    • Phoenix Model Aviation Ltd
    • Prodrone Academy Limited  (RAE)
    • Professional Drone Training Ltd  (RAE)
    • Skeyetrain Photography And Surveys Ltd Trading As Skeyetrain (RAE)
    • The UAV Academy Limited (RAE)
    • UAV8 Ltd (RAE)
    • Uave Limited