Drone Rules

Knowing the law helps you understand your rights while flying drones

Our introductory video below gives a very basic, simplified, version of the rules. UK air law is documented in ‘The Air Navigation Order’ issued by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). You can view the ANO it in its entirety here: CAP393 The Air Navigation Order 2016.. There were also these amendments to the ANO in July 2018 (which are incorporated below).

Watch our unmanned aircraft safety video Watch our unmanned aircraft safety video

As RC model and drone pilots we fall under “Small Unmanned Aircraft” and in some cases “Small Unmanned Surveillance Aircraft” and as such we are exempt from the vast majority of the Air Navigation Order. The articles that do apply to us are: 2, 91, 92, 94, 95, 239, 241 and 257 (except 257(2)(a)).

Articles 253 (Revocation, suspension and variation of certificates, licences and other documents), 265 (Offences and penalties), 266 (Exemption from Order) and 269 (Certificates, authorisations, approvals and permissions) also apply. This is all specified in article 23 of the ANO.

The following five articles are not usually relevant to radio control operations and paraphrased descriptions are included here only for completeness – please open the PDF if you would like to read them in full.

  • 2

    Schedule 1 (interpretation) has effect.

  • 91

    Dropping for the purposes of agriculture

  • 92

    A glider must not be winched or ground towed above 60 metres

  • 239

    Power to prohibit or restrict flying

  • 257*

    CAA’s power to stop flying
    * Except 257(2)(a)

Endangering safety of any person or property

  • 241A

    A person must not recklessly or negligently cause or permit an aircraft to endanger any person or property.

Small Unmanned Aircraft

  • 94(1)

    A person must not cause or permit any article or animal (whether or not attached to a parachute) to be dropped from a small unmanned aircraft so as to endanger persons or property.

    • 2

      The remote pilot of a small unmanned aircraft may only fly the aircraft if reasonably satisfied that the flight can safely be made.

    • 3

      The remote pilot of a small unmanned aircraft must maintain direct, unaided visual contact with the aircraft sufficient to monitor its flight path in relation to other aircraft, persons, vehicles, vessels and structures for the purpose of avoiding collisions.

    • 4

      If a small unmanned aircraft has a mass of more than 7kg excluding its fuel but including any articles or equipment installed in or attached to the aircraft at the commencement of its flight, the SUA operator must not cause or permit the aircraft to be flown, and the remote pilot in charge of the aircraft must not fly it—

      • a

        in Class A, C, D or E airspace unless the permission of the appropriate air traffic control unit has been obtained; or

      • b

        within an aerodrome traffic zone during the notified hours of watch of the air traffic control unit (if any at that aerodrome unless the permission of any such air traffic control unit has been obtained;

    • 4A

      Paragraph (4) does not apply to any flight within the flight restriction zone of a protected aerodrome (within the meaning given in article 94B).

    • 5

      The SUA operator must not cause or permit a small unmanned aircraft to be flown for the purposes of commercial operations, and the remote pilot of a small unmanned aircraft must not fly it for the purposes of commercial operations, except in accordance with a permission granted by the CAA.

    Small unmanned aircraft: height restrictions on flights

    • 94A(1)

      The SUA operator must not cause or permit a small unmanned aircraft to be flown at a height of more than 400 feet above the surface, and the remote pilot of a small unmanned aircraft must not fly it at a height of more than 400 feet above the surface, unless the permission of the CAA has been obtained.

    • (2)

      This article does not apply to any flight within the flight restriction zone of a protected aerodrome (within the meaning given in article 94B).

    Small Unmanned Surveillance Aircraft

    • 95 (1)

      The SUA operator must not cause or permit a small unmanned surveillance aircraft to be flown in any of the circumstances described in paragraph (2), and the remote pilot of a small unmanned surveillance aircraft must not fly it in any of those circumstances, except in accordance with a permission issued by the CAA.

      • 2

        The circumstances referred to in paragraph (1) are:

        • a

          over or within 150 metres of any congested area;

        • b

          over or within 150 metres of an organised open-air assembly of more than 1,000 persons;

        • c

          within 50 metres of any vessel, vehicle or structure which is not under the control of the person in charge of the aircraft; or

        • d

          subject to paragraphs (3) and (4), within 50 metres of any person.

      • 3

        Subject to paragraph (4), during take-off or landing, a small unmanned surveillance aircraft must not be flown within 30 metres of any person.

      • 4

        Paragraphs (2)(d) and (3) do not apply to the remote pilot of the small unmanned surveillance aircraft or a person under the control of the remote pilot of the aircraft.

      • 5

        In this article ‘a small unmanned surveillance aircraft’ means a small unmanned aircraft which is equipped to undertake any form of surveillance or data acquisition.

      Is FPV flying data acquisition?

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