Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) are a new and evolutionary component of the aviation system, offering several new and exciting opportunities, as well as a number of challenges. Unmanned aircraft come in a variety of shapes and sizes, ranging from small handheld types up to large aircraft, potentially a similar size to airliners and, just like manned aircraft, they may be of a fixed wing design, rotary winged, or a combination of both.Unmanned Aircraft may also be referred to as:
Regardless of the name used, they all share the common characteristic that the person responsible for piloting the aircraft is not onboard it. Just like any other aircraft however, an unmanned aircraft must always be flown in a safe manner, both with respect to other aircraft in the air and also to people and properties on the ground.
The CAA’s primary aim is to enable the full and safe integration of all UAS operations into the UK’s total aviation system.
The key first principle when discussing the regulation of any UAS is to determine how it is being operated and what process is being used to avoid it colliding with other aircraft, objects or people, which is the primary responsibility of anyone who flies any aircraft.
UAS are either operated:
This means that the aircraft must be able to be clearly seen by the person flying it at all times when it is airborne. By doing this, the person flying the aircraft is able to monitor its flight path and so manoeuvre it clear of anything that it may collide with. While corrective spectacles can be used to look at the aircraft, the use of binoculars, telescopes, or any other image enhancing devices are not permitted.
In simple terms, the aircraft must not be flown out of sight of a human eye.
If the person flying the aircraft is unable to maintain direct unaided visual contact with it while it is airborne, then an alternative method of collision avoidance must be employed in order to ensure that it can still be flown safely.
BVLOS flight will normally require either:
Your flight will broadly fall into one of three types as follows:
While the regulations are the same for all types of flight, there are some specific additional requirements placed on commercial operations involving small unmanned aircraft.Within the UK, UAS are currently split into separate categories according to their weight (or mass) as follows:
Further Guidance on UAS operations within UK airspace can be found in our UK guidance document CAP 722.
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