• 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). 

    Delay to EU unmanned aircraft systems Implementing Regulation

    05 June 2020 - the European Commission delayed the applicability date of the European Union Unmanned Aircraft Systems Implementing Regulation 2019/947 (EU UAS IR 2019/947) until the 31 December 2020.
    This decision supersedes the previous delay applied by the UK Government.  Therefore, the Implementing Regulation will now become applicable within the UK on Thursday 31 December 2020.
    CAP 1789 ‘The EU UAS Regulatory Package - Outline’ will be updated in the coming days to reflect the new applicability date of this regulation. You can see the decision at https://eur-lex.europa.eu/eli/reg_impl/2020/746/oj

    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.

    New European UAS Regulations – Updated Guidance

    29 April 2020 – We have published an updated version of our Guidance document: CAP1789 The EU UAS Regulation Package – Outline

    This version provides an update based on revised information and policy developments since its original publication in June 2019.

    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.

    Other types of drone or model aircraft flying

    You'll need to get permission from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) or an organisation acting on its behalf if you want to do either of the following:

    • fly a drone or model aircraft that is above 20kg
    • legally fly outside the rules in this Code

    The type of permission you need depends on:

    • the size and type of drone or model aircraft you want to fly
    • where you want to fly
    • how high you want to fly
    • whether you want to fly for a hobby or for commercial reasons

    You can find out more about permissions and exemptions at the Civil Aviation Authority website.

    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.

    Model aircraft oversight change

    Within the CAA the oversight of model aircraft is now being undertaken by our Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Unit. The two activities that this affects are model aircraft displays and the flight of model aircraft greater than 20Kg. In the short term very little will change but we have updated the two main application forms for these activities which can be found at:

    Please use these forms from now on to make sure they reach the UAS team.

    We will now be meeting much more frequently with the model aircraft representative bodies to develop future regulation.

    The current edition of the guide to safe model aircraft flying CAP658 will be replaced in due course with a new volume of the unmanned aircraft guide CAP722 and so CAP658 will not be updated from now on.

    How to contact us

    For any questions please now contact the UAS unit at uavenquiries@caa.co.uk

    General Permission – Small UAS Permissions or Exemptions issued prior to 13 March 2019

    21 August 2019 – We have just issued a General Permission (ORS4 No.1311) which rectifies an unintended consequence relating to permissions and exemptions issued prior to 13 March 2019 (when the 2019 amendment to Air Navigation Order came into force) regarding the text related to the requirements for flight above 400 feet within the flight restriction zone of a protected aerodrome.

    Guidance and policy update

    23 July 2019 - A new edition of CAP 722 has been published. The update follows amendments to the Air Navigation Order and splits the content into three separate documents:

    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

    Air Navigation (Amendment) Order 2019

    20 February 2019 – Following the amendment to the ANO that will enter into force on 13 March 2019, we have published guidance for small unmanned aircraft users with an outline of the revised regulations as they will now appear in law; to provide guidance on the effects of the changes; and how they will be interpreted by the CAA.  This guidance replaces CAP1687, which is now cancelled.

    UK Government publishes response to consultation on drone legislation

    8 January 2019 – The Department for Transport has now published its response to the consultation on future drone legislation that it conducted last summer.  The report can be found at  https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/government-response-to-future-of-drones-in-the-uk-consultation

    DJI battery update

    21 November - After reviewing evidence from DJI, we are in a place to remove some of the current restrictions if an operator can successfully apply the DJI workaround (and verify this). We do ask that all operators still proceed with caution and immediately return to home or hover if the device doesn’t behave as expected. We continue to monitor this issue daily, working with DJI and reviewing operator feedback. We welcome any thing further from operators on this matter. Please follow the link to access our new safety notice:  SN2018/011

    Drone safety risk 

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

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