EASA Proposals for the Regulation of Drones - the BMFA Perspective

There has been considerable discussion over recent days regarding the effect on model flying of recent EASA proposals for the regulation of 'drones'.

From the BMFA perspective, the situation as it stands is that the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) issued some draft regulations for consultation in August which outlined their thoughts on the regulation of unmanned aircraft.  The requirement for this had clearly arisen due to the surge in the use of multi-rotor aircraft (drones) by both leisure and commercial users. 

A meeting was called by Europe Air Sports (EAS) to discuss the draft EASA regulations and this took place in Cologne in early September.  BMFA CEO Dave Phipps attended this meeting both as ‘Aeromodelling Adviser’ to EAS, but also as the UK representative.  A response to the draft was submitted on behalf of all model flyers within Europe, essentially arguing that model flying should not be subject to any additional regulation and should instead be left to each European Member State to regulate (as per the current situation).  The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) also submitted a response to the draft EASA regulations which was also very supportive of the existing arrangements for model flyers.  Dave Phipps also submitted a response directly from the BMFA to re-state the case.  In total, the consultation received 3400 comments from 250 different contributors.

The EASA Technical Opinion on the results of the consultation was issued just before Christmas and has taken into consideration the long and excellent safety record established by model flying throughout Europe with a clearly stated intention to ‘develop rules which will not affect model aircraft flying’.  In addition, model flyers operating under the umbrella of model flying associations will benefit from ‘grandfather rights’ for their existing arrangements.  It is also proposed that the regulation of model flying will remain within the Member States, so in our case it will remain with the CAA who are supportive of model flying.  As such, we don’t envisage any major changes as a result of the EASA proposals which are unlikely to be implemented until 2017/18 regardless.

We understand that the UK Government will be conducting its own public consultation on ‘drone’ operations later this year.  We will again take steps to ensure that BMFA Members are well represented, but depending on what transpires, we may at that point call for the direct input of members.

This issue will be covered in greater detail in the next issue of the BMFA NEWS which will be posted out to members at the beginning of February.  However, in the interim please be assured that the BMFA is very much involved in on-going discussions and we are doing all that we can to preserve the established rights of model flyers in the UK with the support of the CAA.