Model aircraft are a type of unmanned aircraft. This page provides some specific guidance on the regulations that apply to model aircraft.
Model aircraft have been flown for many years in the UK. These models are often scaled down versions of manned aircraft. Many hobbyists tend to fly from specific, designated sites and as part of a club environment. However, ‘solo’ flight from other locations is also possible provided that the models are operated in accordance with the requirements of the law and are flown with respect to the safety of other people and aircraft.
Model aircraft may be flown:
- Within the Open category. The basic rules for flying model aircraft in the Open category are available in our flying as a hobby factsheet.
- Within the Specific category
- Within the Specific category as member of a CAA recognised model aircraft association (Article 16 Authorisation). If you are a member of a recognised model aircraft association, they will provide you with the details of any authorisation you are able to make use of and the conditions you must comply with. There are more complex rules for flying model aircraft under an Article 16 Authorisation. Association members wishing to make use of such an authorisation, should contact their association for further information.
Guidance for model aircraft clubs within the vicinity of aerodromes
It is acknowledged that a number of model aircraft clubs operate within the vicinity of aerodromes, some within the FRZ.
This means that in order to operate, model aircraft pilots will require permission from the relevant aerodrome. This permission is not necessarily required on a ‘per flight’ basis, but may be issued on a more general basis by an air traffic service unit or aerodrome operator. This may be agreed by a letter of agreement or otherwise. The CAA recommends that model aircraft clubs near aerodromes establish a relationship with the aerodrome operator, with a view to facilitating a positive two-way dialogue. Model aircraft associations may be able to provide specific guidance with regard to engaging with aerodrome operators.
Should a model aircraft remote pilot, or club, believe that a request to operate within the airspace associated with an aerodrome, has not been considered appropriately, this may be reported to the CAA.
Large model aircraft
Model aircraft with a mass of more than 25kg are termed 'Large Model Aircraft'. Within the UK, large model aircraft may only be flown in accordance with an operational authorisation, which must be issued by the CAA.
Anyone wishing to build a large model aircraft should engage early with the Large Model Association (LMA). The LMA operates a model inspection scheme, and once satisfied, will issue a certificate of design and construction. This certificate must accompany the SRG1307 application for an exemption. Applications made without such a certificate will be rejected.
Model aircraft displays
Model aircraft operating in a display, must do so in accordance with the terms of the relevant Article 16 Authorisation. Form SRG1308 should be used for any necessary model aircraft display authorisation, as required by the terms of an Article 16 Authorisation. Any model aircraft pilot wishing to participate in, or run, a display event should contact their relevant model aircraft association for further advice.