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New Rules For Drone Users In Europe And UK

New rules have come into force on Thursday for all drone users, under the new rules even small drones will now need to be registered with the relevant aviation authority. If a drone is heavier than 250g then it already has to be registered with the CAA. Toy aircraft’s are not required to be registered. All drones that have a camera will need to be registered with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

The rules will apply across all EU member states Norway and Iceland and now the UK will mirror the same rules. If you have brought your drone before 31st December,2020 you must still register. The drones will fall into three categories varying from low, medium and high depending on how they are used or flown.

  • The low risk or open category drones will not require any authorisation but will be subject to strict operational limitations.
  • Medium risk or specific category drones will have to have authorisation from the national aviation authority on the basis of a risk assessment.
  • High risk or certified category drones will need to follow aviation rules, and this will apply to future drone flights with passengers.

The low risk category which will account for majority of hobbyist drones will be managed through the CE mark, which is the usual process for all products that are sold in Europe to ensure the customers they meet health, safety and environmental standards. Drones in the lower risk category will also have additional rules about where they can be flown:

  • A1- Drones weighing less than 250g can be flown over people.
  • A2- Drones weighing more than 250g but less than 2kg must be flown at least 50m away from people.
  • A3- Drones weighing more than 2kg must be flown well away from people.

Membership of the CAA costs £9 and is renewed annually, UK based users are still required to have passed the CAA’s official theory test and to have obtained a flyer ID to be allowed to fly any drone weighing over 250g within 150m of people. The CAA makes it clear where drones can be flown, drone legislation has been confusing and varied nation to nation. If you get caught with a drone that is not registered with the CAA you could face a £1,000 fine. Once the drone is registered the owner will be issued with an ID number and will be required to display it on all the drones they have in BLOCK capital letters. This is to ensure that authorities can trace who owns a drone and if the drones are being used irresponsibly or flown some where they are not allowed to be used. By law drones are suppose to be operated within a operators line of sight and must remain below an altitude of 400ft to avoid interfering with aircraft and avoid public buildings. Authorisation is needed for larger and higher risk drones and those using then for complex environment beyond the operator’s line of sight.

DJI, one of the worlds biggest drone makers welcomed the new changes and said: “It streamlines different processes and allows customers to travel from country to country without having to worry about different rules in different foreign languages.”

Elliot Corke, Director of Global Drone Training , said: “The new rules might give people the idea that they could unpack a drone and just fly with it. We would encourage people to read the manual and practise somewhere safe first.”