Where You Can Fly Your Drone
All our instructors are professional aviators through and through, with varied military and civil backgrounds. All are highly competent and current drone operators and will provide you with a first class training experience.
This guide is meant to help you understand what you can and cannot do with any particular type of drone. Do not worry if you find it complicated or that you need to read it twice! That’s quite normal and you will constantly need to refer back to it.
Once you have read, if you have any further questions, want to book a training course or buy a particular drone then get in touch! We are available via the Ask ASGLive Chat or
UK DRONE REGULATIONS
In December 2020, the UK adopted new regulations of where and with what ‘class’ of drone you can fly within UK airspace. Infringement of these rules will be a criminal offence.
The CAA had already introduced two new mandatory elements, under the Drone and Model Aircraft Registration and Education Service (DMARES) in November 2019 - this affect you and must be followed to fly a drone legally in the UK.
Anyone responsible for a drone or unmanned aircraft (including model aircraft) weighing between 250g and 25kg needs to register as an operator. The cost for this is £9 renewable annually.
Anyone flying a drone or unmanned aircraft (including model aircraft) weighing between 250g and 25kg must take and pass an online education package. This is free and renewable every three years.
You must do this now if you have not already done so as these 2 elements are the fundamental building blocks to fly in the UK, and before you undertake any formal drone qualification course – A2 Certificate of Competence (A2 CofC) or the General VLOS Certificate (GVC). More on this later.
A key reference document for you is CAP 722 - Unmanned Aircraft System Operations in UK Airspace – Guidance. You can download a copy here
But….before you get immersed in detail and maybe a little confused, first, read-on.
The new rules are now proportionate to the risk of drone operations – the more risk than the more qualification and CAA approval is required. There are now 3 categories of operations covering Visual Line of Sight (VLOS) to Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) that apply different rules and regulations.
These categories are as follows:
NO authorisation or declaration by UAS operator required before starting the operation
CE class label necessary
UAS operator required to conduct a risk assessment and to have received authorisation from the CAA before starting the operation
Regulatory regime similar to manned aviation
Certified UAS operator
See below as to how physical airspace will look and how the above categories are applied then see below:
The vast majority of drone pilots in the UK who are using their drone for either recreational or commercial use are only interested in the OPEN and SPECIFIC Categories. We provide support to users in the CERTIFIED category
The following rules generally apply to both OPEN and SPECIFIC Categories:
Maximum height you can fly above ground is 120m/400ft
Only VLOS flights
Let’s look at these two categories in a little more detail:
The OPEN Category will be where the majority of recreational and semi-professional drone pilots will fly. This category is intended for low risk flights whereby no prior authorisation from the CAA is required.
This OPEN Category is further broken down into 3 sub-categories A1, A2 and A3. These are to describe the type of operation you are conducting in the OPEN Category and summarised as:
A1 – Flying ‘over’ people
A2 – Flying ‘close’ to people
A3 – Flying ‘far from’ people
There are now 4 new weight classes of drone that will be marked with a CE marking logo:
Why? Depending on where you are trying to fly, and with what weight your drone is at take-off, will depend on different operating restrictions in the UK that will apply.
The table below is a summary of the sub category, what you can do and what weight class of drone applies.
Note, the C0 to C4 Class label of drone will slowly come into shops from manufacturers and whilst this happens then you can continue to fly your current drone until the end of 2022, at the earliest.
A2 Certificate of Competence (A2 CofC) – what is this and why do I need one?
The A2 CofC is a remote pilot competency certificate primarily intended to assure safe operations of unmanned aircraft close to uninvolved persons. The certificate assures an appropriate knowledge of the technical and operational mitigations for ground risk (the risk of a person being struck by the unmanned aircraft).
An A2 CofC is required to be held by the remote pilot when:
Operating in the A2 subcategory;
Operating in the A1 subcategory under the ‘A1 Transitional Provisions’ as set out in Article 22 of the European Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/947. (not after 30 June 2022, UA less than 500g MTOM, no intentional flight over uninvolved persons)
This A2CofC Certificate is going to be needed to support most semi-professional commercial operations.
The SPECIFIC Category is intended for all drone operations that do not comply with the ‘limits’ of the OPEN category. In general a risk assessment will be required with mitigation measures to reduce any risk.
In this category an Operational Authorisation (OA) will be required from the CAA and you will have had to complete some formal training known as the General VLOS Certificate (GVC). This is a formal theory and practical flight assessment course by a Recognised Assessment Entity (RAE) during which you will produce an Operations Manual describing your operation that will be submitted to the CAA for an OA approval.
This GVC qualification is going to be needed to support most professional drone operations.
You can also do a bolt-on qualification as part of your GVC to fly Extended Visual Line of Sight (EVLOS).
The CAA currently have 2 types of PDRA in CAP 722:
UKPDRA01 – Operations within 150m of any Residential, Commercial, Industrial or Recreational Areas for UAS with a Maximum Take-off Mass of less than 25kg. This PDRA is designed to enable VLOS operations with UAS in the areas that are likely to be more ‘congested’ than the areas where subcategory A3 operations are permitted. It provides the same operating privileges to those previously available under a ‘Permission for Commercial Operations’.
UKPDRA2 - Flights for Research and Development Testing of UAS with a Maximum Take-Off Mass (MTOM) between 25kg and 150kg. This PDRA is designed to enable short term initial research and development flights to be conducted, within a sterile area away from people and property. It allows a UAS manufacturer/developer to conduct initial ‘proof of concept’ flight tests without the need to produce a full risk assessment for a product that may not prove to be feasible for further development.
DRONE TRAINING COURSES
Key products chosen by some of our clients