DfT publishes amendments to the Air Navigation Order. 20/2/2019

DfT publishes amendments to the Air Navigation Order.

The Department for Transport (DfT) yesterday published further amendments to the Air Navigation Order which impact on all users of Small Unmanned Aircraft, including the model flying community.  https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-drone-safety-partnership-with-business-launched-as-government-sets-out-plans-to-limit-drone-misuse

Further details of the amendments can be found in CAP1763 (as the CAA have the unenviable task of implementing the legislation).  You can read CAP1763 here: http://publicapps.caa.co.uk/docs/33/CAP1763%20New%20UAS%20guidance%20Feb%202019.pdf

Regrettably, the DfT have put us somewhat on the ‘back foot’ with this due to the speed with which they have introduced the amendment which also includes elements which they had not alerted us to.  The changes have been expedited in reaction to incidents involving small unmanned aircraft at Gatwick and Heathrow in the last couple of months.

We have reported previously on the creation of flight restriction zones around protected aerodromes, the concept of which was introduced in the Government Response to the 2018 Consultation on Drones published earlier this year and these zones will come into effect from 13th March 2019.  A useful interactive map of the UK has been created by NATS showing the protected aerodromes with the restriction zones superimposed.  See https://dronesafe.uk/restrictions/ for further details.

CAP1763 states that ‘the flight restriction zone is active at all times and applies to all small unmanned aircraft of any mass (even very small ‘toys’)’.  This was a surprising development which would in theory even extend to paper aeroplanes.

If you wish to fly an unmanned aircraft within these restriction zones, then permission will have to be obtained from air traffic control at the aerodrome.  The CAAexpect such permissions to be based on a ‘constructive dialogue between the modellers/model clubs and the relevant aerodrome’ and formalised in a letter of agreement/memorandum of understanding.

One slight benefit included in this ANO update is that the existing restriction on flying unmanned aircraft over 7kg below 400ft in controlled airspace has now been removed, as the new restrictions apply to all unmanned aircraft up to 20Kg and maintain the 400ft limit for all unmanned aircraft.

We are seeking clarification and answers to a number of questions we have posed to the DfT and CAA on behalf of our members.  We hope to receive answers this week and will publish further updates and clarification in due course.

Secretaries of those clubs captured by these changes are invited to email Andy Symons (BMFA Club Support Officer) at andy@bmfa.org for further advice/information/help as a matter of urgency.

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