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UK Civil Aviation Regulations

These are published by the CAA on our UK Regulations pages. EU Regulations and EASA Access Guides published by EASA no longer apply in the UK. Our website and publications are being reviewed to update all references. Any references to EU law and EASA Access guides should be disregarded and where applicable the equivalent UK versions referred to instead.

The Specific category covers operations that present a greater risk than the Open category, or where one or more elements of the operation fall outside the boundaries of the Open category.

Full details of the requirements related to the Specific category can be found in our publication CAP722.

Operational authorisations

The key element of the Specific category is that the drone or remotely piloted aircraft operator is required to hold an operational authorisation, which has been issued by the CAA.

This operational authorisation will be based on our evaluation of a safety risk assessment that has been produced by the operator or, in some circumstances, has been pre-defined and published by the CAA.

The operational authorisation document sets out the privileges and limits of the operation.

Each operational authorisation is specific to the named operator and is dependent on the risk assessment and evidence supplied to us by that operator.

Any application using a Pre-Defined Risk Assessment (PDRA) (e.g. PDRA01) cannot be combined with an application of a case 1 or case 2 operational authorisation. All application types should be applied for separately.

PDRA01 operations manuals should be kept as a separate document from a case 1 and case 2 operational safety case, as the assessment process is conducted separately.

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Risk assessments

In order to obtain an operational authorisation, unless the planned operation can be covered by a PDRA, the operator must first conduct a risk assessment of the proposed operation and submit this as part of their application. Essentially, the aim of the risk assessment, which also includes the operator’s operations manual, is to:

  • outline the proposed operation (what the operator wants to do)
  • describe the operational process that will be used (how the operator will do it)
  • describe the technical aspects of the drone or remotely piloted system to be used (what the operator will do it with)
  • and then demonstrate that it can be done safely (provide a risk assessment/safety case)

The risk assessment/safety case must be compliant with the UK Reg (EU) 2019/947, particularly Article 11, and its associated AMC/GM.

Further guidance on the preparation and submission of risk assessments is provided in CAP 722A,

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Pre-Defined Risk Assessments

This is a shortened set of prescriptive conditions that must be complied with by an operator in order to conduct a pre-determined type of operation.

In these cases, the CAA conducts the risk assessment, rather than each individual operator, and then publishes a short series of requirements (covering topics such as pilot competency, operations manual contents etc) that the operator must provide to the CAA as part of a shortened application for an operational authorisation.

Individual PDRAs are listed in CAP722H.

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CAA approved remote pilot assessment organisations (RAEs)

  • 3iC Ltd
  • Acme Helicopters Limited trading As Dragon Drone Training
  • Across Safety Development Ltd
  • Aerial Motion Pictures Limited trading As UAVHub
  • Airborne Platforms UK Limited trading As Airborne Platforms Uk
  • ASSD Media Limited trading As Pigs Can Fly
  • Aviation Systems Group Ltd trading as ASG
  • British School Of Aviation
  • Colena Ltd trading as Heliguy
  • Commercial Drone Training Education Ltd
  • Consortiq Limited trading as Uavair
  • COPTRZ Ltd
  • DAC UK Limited trading as Flyby Technology
  • Drone Pilot Academy Limited
  • Drone Training Limited trading as Global Drone Training
  • Eagle Eye Innovation Ltd trading as RUSTA
  • Harbour Media Limited trading as Osprey Drone Training
  • Iprosurv Limited
  • iRed Limited
  • Nexus Nine Ltd
  • PCC Devon & Cornwall
  • Professional Drone Training Ltd
  • Railscape Limited trading as RUAS Training Acadamy
  • Sentinel Small Unmanned Aviation Systems (SUAS) Ltd
  • The UAV Academy Limited
  • UAV8 Ltd
  • Wiltshire Police
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How to apply for an operational authorisation

Please complete the online application form and submit the required documents (the application form will lead you through the process).

The form has the facility to attach copies of any relevant information, such as remote pilot competence and risk assessments.  We are unable to accept documents stored and hosted in third party cloud servers. 

Failure to submit all required documentary evidence will delay the assessment process. 

Applications for PDRA Operational Authorisation are received by our team at uavenquiries@caa.co.uk and will be assessed within 28 working days from date of receipt.

The documentation submitted must be in line with the UK Reg (EU) N.2019/947 (the UK UAS Implementing Regulation).

Guidance to this Regulation can be found in CAP1789A.

Note: The application process contains rejection rules for incorrect application submissions. Should an application be rejected the applicant will be notified and will be required to make a fresh application submission. A rejection/assessment fee of £124.00 for applications which do not meet a certain level of standard may be charged in line with the CAA Refunds & Waivers Policy .

Applications for Operational Authorisation Case 1 and Case 2 are received by our team at uavenquiries@caa.co.uk.

Applications including the UAS operators risk assessment should include:

  • Operations manual
  • Risk assessment
  • Details of the competency levels of each remote pilot involved in the operation

 Applications will be triaged within 10 working days from date of receipt and passed to the Sector Team for allocation.

Applications might be put on hold for reason such as (but not limited to):

  • one or more of the volumes of the operating safety case is not provided
  • the name of the organisation and Companies House number do not match
  • the OP-ID is not valid
  • the Accountable Manager on the OP-ID does not match the AM listed in the OSC-the application type is incorrect

*on-hold means the application is paused and passed back to the applicant for a response.

Once the on-hold reasons are addressed, the application will be passed to the Sector Team.

The Sector Team does not prioritise any application.

The length of time required to assess an application varies and may be impacted by a serious of factors such as, but not limited to:

UAS Operators are advised not to make any commercial decisions or book any contracts if not in possession of a valid Operational Authorisation.

Please note that a renewal application can be received up to 90 days prior to the expiry date of an Operational Authorisation. Any renewal submitted close to expiry date is not guaranteed to be renewed prior to expiration.

Complex applications and applications that are not supported by a robust operational risk assessment may require additional assessment time than paid for with the application fee. Please refer to our Scheme of Charges for details.

In order to avoid incurring in many extra hours of assessment/work, the Sector Team will reject applications that, after few hours of assessment, clearly do not show compliance with the current Regulation.

This is in order to avoid application assessment to be carried on for long period of time and to give the UAS Operators the time needed in order to amend the documentation and review the operational objectives without incurring in any unnecessary extra fees.

Non-UK operators

If you are an unmanned aircraft operator from overseas and want to fly in the UK, then you must register as a UK operator and comply with the same requirements that would apply if you were based in the UK.

There is some scope for valid national documents relating to operator certification, remote pilot competency or even national operational authorisations to be accepted by the CAA as part of a risk assessment. This is particularly the case where the regulatory environment in the operator’s parent country is similar to that of the UK (e.g. EU Member States).

Our charges

Details of our charges can be found in the General Aviation Scheme of Charges

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All applications are subject to the payment of the necessary fees as defined in the CAA Scheme of Charges. The latest details can be found by looking for the CAA Scheme of Charges (General Aviation) section 

Case 2 (reduced charge) applications  

The CAA Scheme of Charges provides for some selected situations where it is anticipated that the time required for the CAA to process and authorise the application would be less than expected for the majority of applications.  As a result, these ‘Case 2’, applications are charged at a lower rate. 

The following types of operation (one only) may be applied for under ‘Case 2’ status’: 

  • Flights above 400ft/120 metres that are conducted under VLOS; 
  • Flights of UAS with a mass that is less than 25kg at reduced distances from uninvolved persons down to a minimum of 30 metres; 
  • ‘Extended VLOS’ (EVLOS) flights using a maximum of one observer. 

All other applications or use of two or more in the list above must be made as ‘Case 1’. 

Note: despite fitting into one of the Case 2 categories above, if the amount of work expended by the CAA while processing an individual application exceeds 4 hours (e.g. because the application is unclear, or poorly justified), the application would then become a ‘Case 1’ and the higher charge would apply. 

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