References to EU regulation or EU websites in our guidance will not be an accurate description of your obligations or rights under UK law.read more
What is an Unmanned Aircraft?
An unmanned aircraft (UA) is defined
as: Any aircraft operating or designed to operate autonomously or to be
piloted remotely without a pilot on board. Regulation (EU) 2018/1139 –
The CAA considers the following as
flying ‘objects’ rather than flying ‘machines’, and so do not fall within the
definition of an unmanned aircraft:
The safety regulations for
unmanned aircraft are primarily contained in Commission Implementing Regulation (EU)
2019/947 ‘The UAS Implementing Regulation’. A consolidated version
of the UAS IR can be found in CAP
1789A These are mainly safety regulations but they also cover
some matters relating to privacy and security. The UAS IR sets limits on where unmanned aircraft may
The Air Navigation Order 2016 ,
as amended, (ANO) also sets out some requirements
that apply to unmanned aircraft, and the most relevant ones are:
A person must not recklessly or negligently act in a manner likely to endanger an aircraft, or any person in an aircraft.
The term 'Aircraft' within article 240 refers to any aircraft which is not a small unmanned aircraft, as set out in article 23
A person must not recklessly or negligently cause or permit an aircraft to endanger any person or property
We have a series of factsheets to help explain the rules that will apply to your flying:
Before describing the differences, it is important to note that both can be classified as unmanned aircraft and that the aviation regulations above, covering how and where they can be used, apply equally to both.
Recent technological advances mean that a much greater variety of unmanned aircraft are now available. These vary from the ready-to-fly multi-rotor types that represent the popular conception of a ‘drone’, through to the traditional kit or plans-built
model aeroplane or helicopter. A typical multi-rotor drone is heavily gyro-stabilised and can use GPS for guidance in addition to acting on Radio Frequency (RF) commands from the pilot. The traditional model aircraft usually uses only an RF signal for commands from the pilot, requires much
greater pilot training and skill, and is flown only at specific recreational sites away from persons and property.
In practice, the vast majority of unmanned aircraft used for commercial work are of the camera-equipped multi-rotor drone type. These vary in size and capability and, unlike traditional model aircraft, are increasingly being used for specific purposes including
photographic flights in urban areas. This type of use can be unsafe and present a conflict with other activities; the drone pilot must understand that flight close to other aircraft, people or habitation and at outdoor events can pose a real risk to public safety.
The Police use of unmanned aircraft comes under civil aviation legislation and their operators work under the same safety criteria applied to all other civilian operators.
Flights inside buildings have no impact on Air Navigation because they can have no effect on flights by aircraft in the open air. As a result, flights within buildings, or within areas where there is no possibility for the unmanned aircraft to ‘escape’ into the
open air (such as a ‘closed’ netted structure) are not subject to air navigation legislation. Persons intending to operate Unmanned Aircraft indoors should refer to the appropriate Health and Safety at Work regulations.
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