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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:
London drone-filming information and Borough film offices:
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:
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:
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.
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:
After successfully completing the theory element, applicants will:
Flight assessments are normally arranged and completed at your own pace:
Details of CAA approved assessment organisations (RAEs) are shown below.
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