• Remote pilot minimum age requirement changes

    28 January 2021 – The UK Government has now removed the minimum age requirement for remote pilots operating a UAS in the Open and Specific categories.

    The competency requirements are unchanged, but from this date, the 12 years of age (Open category) and 14 years of age (Specific category) limits no longer apply. 

    Articles 9 and 9A of the UAS Implementing Regulation (EU 2019/947) have been deleted completely; the full details can be found in Statutory Instrument 2021 No. 10

    CAP 1789A has been updated. This is our  consolidated version of the UAS Implementing Regulation, published for reference purposes. This version represents the text of the regulation as it applies in UK domestic law from 11pm 31 December 2020 onwards. The minimum age requirements for remote pilots, set out within Articles 9 and 9A, have been removed.

    CAP 722 and our factsheets (CAPs 2003-2008 and 2012) will be updated shortly.

    Air Navigation (Amendment) Order 2020 

    18 December 2020 – Following the amendment to the ANO that will come into force on 31 December 2020, we have published guidance to the revised regulations as they now appear in law within CAP 2013.

    Amendments to UAS operator ‘standard permissions’ issued prior to 31 December 2020

    18 December 2020 – We have just published a General Authorisation which amends the operating conditions of certain small unmanned aircraft permissions so that they align with the conditions of the ‘replacement’ operational authorisation that will be issued from 31 December 2020 onwards. 

    See ORS4 No. 1449 for details.

    Remote pilots operating under permissions or exemptions

    15 December 2020 – CAP 722 Annex B sets out the transitional competency requirements for remote pilots operating under permissions or exemptions that have been issued prior to 31 December 2020.  Due to technical constraints, it is not currently possible to re-take the online competency test if a remote pilot already holds a valid flyer ID. As a result, sections B3.2.7.1 and B3.2.7.2 of CAP 722 are amended as follows:

  • Remote pilots operating under OSC based permissions or exemptions issued prior to 31 December 2020

    Paragraph B3.2.7.1

    In paragraph B3.2.7.1 (Remote pilots operating under OSC based permissions or exemptions issued prior to 31 December 2020), replace the current text with the following:

    Remote pilots may continue to fly under the terms of the existing OSC based permission or exemption held by the UAS operator.

    At the point when the OSC based permission or exemption is renewed, which must be on or before 30 December 2021, or when a new remote pilot joins the organisation (whichever is earlier), UAS operators must:

    • Review the remote pilot competence elements of their OSC;
    • Adjust the OSC as necessary to ensure the risks are appropriately mitigated;
    • Ensure that all remote pilots used to fly under their operational authorisation meet the required levels of competence; and
    • Ensure that all remote pilots are in possession of a valid 'flyer ID'.

    Remote pilots operating under 'standard permission'/'PFCO' based permissions that were first issued prior to 31 December 2020

    Paragraph B3.2.7.2

    In paragraph B3.2.7.2 (Remote pilots operating under 'standard permission'/'PFCO' based permissions that were first issued prior to 31 December 2020), replace the current text with the following:

    AS operators are responsible for ensuring that all remote pilots flying under the terms of their permission are competent to do so, are kept in current flying practise and are kept fully aware of the applicable regulations.

    Until 31 December 2023 remote pilots may be used by the UAS operator if they:

    • hold a GVC; or,
    • hold an NQE 'full recommendation' obtained prior to 31 December 2020 and a valid 'flyer ID'; or,
    • comply with one of the previously accepted Alternative Means of Compliance categories detailed in Table 3 below, are in possession of a 'flyer ID', and can demonstrate currency within the past 2 years.

    From 1 January 2024 onwards, all remote pilots must be in possession of a GVC. 

  • New regulations from 31 December 2020

    The UK's drone rules change on 31 December 2020. Most users will now fly in the new Open Category. Other categories are Specific and Certified. A set of factsheets are available to explain how your flying will be affected.

    UAS Airspace Restrictions Guidance and Policy

    10 December 2020 - We have published CAP 722C – UAS Airspace Restrictions Guidance and Policy which describes the policy and guidance for organisations or individuals who wish to restrict or facilitate UAS operations with an airspace restriction. 

    Unmanned Aircraft System Operations in UK Airspace - Guidance

    05 November 2020 - We have now published Edition 8 of CAP 722 Unmanned Aircraft System Operations in UK Airspace – Guidance which provides updated guidance to all involved with the operation of unmanned aircraft in the UK. Its content reflects the effect of the new UAS regulations that become applicable from 31 December 2020.

    UAS Master Glossary and Abbreviations

    16 October 2020 - We have now published CAP 722D – UAS Operations in UK Airspace – Master Glossary and Abbreviations which provides the Master Glossary definitions and abbreviations for the complete CAP722 series of documents.

    Electronic conspicuity devices

    Rebates of up to £250 for new Electronic Conspicuity (EC) devices are now available to some operators thanks to funding from the Department for Transport (DfT). See www.caa.co.uk/ec 

    Guidance and policy: Rotary wing Swarm Operations

    25 August 2020 - We have published CAP 722E Rotary Wing Swarm Operations – Visual Line of Sight – Requirements, Guidance & Policy to enable UAS operators to understand the requirements that must be met as part of an application for operational authorisations related to rotary wing UAS swarm operations in visual line of sight (VLOS). 

    UAS Guidance for COVID-19 BVLOS Operations

    01 May 2020 - We have published CAP1915 UAS guidance for COVID-19 BVLOS Operations which enables UAS operators to apply for UAS BVLOS authorisations aimed at supporting the COVID-19 response more effectively and efficiently. It first describes the general factors relevant to the CAA when considering whether to grant an authorisation for UAS BVLOS operations and then describes the specific technical and operational characteristics that bound a simple BVLOS operation. It also outlines the prioritisation that the CAA will afford to applications in support of the NHS, National Public Health organisations or any similar trust or organisation.

    Reduction in UAS flying currency requirements

    Understandably in the current situation UAS operators/remote pilots have found it increasingly difficult to maintain their two hours of flying currency within the last three months, leading up to the renewal of their Permission or Exemption.

    We require these hours so that remote pilots retain the necessary skills required to operate unmanned aircraft safely. It also helps to make sure systems are in good working order prior to conducting operations by having any required software updates downloaded, installed and tested, as well as ensuring batteries are in a safe condition for flight.

    As an interim measure, we will now require operators/remote pilots to use their unmanned aircraft for one hour, prior to undertaking any operation. This  allows operators to check their unmanned aircraft is performing correctly following a period of storage. Remote pilots will also be required to undertake a minimum of one take-off and landing to ensure they have refreshed their competence of operating unmanned aircraft, and to make sure they are working to the processes and procedures defined in their relevant operations manual. Records/logs for these flights must be maintained for the UAS Unit to check compliance during any future oversight audits.

    We will let you know when his interim measure will cease once the UK Government has lifted the COVID-19 restrictions. 

    Temporary prioritisation of Operating Safety Cases for COVID-19

    We normally only prioritise applications from the Police, Fire or Ambulance Services. All other applications are reviewed on a first come, first served basis.

    However, following queries about putting in place prioritisation for use of UAS for COVID-19 work we believe it is appropriate to also prioritise these applications.

    What can be prioritised?

    We will prioritise applications that have the most potential to mitigate harm from the COVID-19 outbreak. In assessing these we will only prioritise applications where the operator has had their services specifically requested by one of the following organisations in relation to COVID-19:

    • UK National Health Service Hospital or NHS Trust;
    • UK Police Service;
    • UK Fire Service;
    • UK Ambulance Services or;
    • Applications that have been specifically recommended/requested by a Government department.

    We cannot guarantee priority of any application.  This interim measure may affect the processing times of other, non-COVID-19 related, applications.

    How to submit an application

    The process for submitting applications remains the same. We ask operators to use SRG1320, which is the form for Applications for Exemption or Permission for Operation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in UK Airspace to the CAA.

    In Section 10 of this form (titled Additional Information) please state that you have had services requested from one of the organisations indicated above and include evidence of this in your documentation. This will enable the team to prioritise the assessment of the application appropriately.

    Additional guidance

    CAP 722A  outlines how an applicant completes a safety assessment as part of the application process for a permission or exemption.

    Duration of COVID-19 interim prioritisation by UAS Unit

    This prioritisation will remain in place until the end of May 2020, at which point it will be reviewed and renewed if appropriate.

    Flying for commercial reasons

    If you want to fly for commercial reasons, you’ll need to get a permission from the CAA.

    Commercial means using a drone or model aircraft in return for payment in any way. For example, if someone pays you to record or take photos of an event.

    If you already have a permission, such as a PfCO (permission for commercial operations) you may be exempt from taking the test until 30 June 2020, General Exemption E 4956.

    Granting permission for Small Unmanned Aircraft to operate within Protected Aerodrome Flight Restrictions Zones: Guidance to Protected Aerodrome Operators

    12 April 2019 – We have published guidance to aerodrome operators and providers of ATS at aerodromes with FRZs, to more fully inform their decision to grant or deny permission for small unmanned aircraft to operate within their Flight Restriction Zones (FRZs):  CAP1788 SUA Permission Guidance

    Drone safety risk 

    January 2018 - The CAA has published an assessment of the drone safety risk.

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