The use of various types of unmanned aircraft, popularly known as drones, has increased rapidly in recent years – both for private leisure use, and for commercial ‘aerial work’. Unmanned aircraft are generally fitted with cameras, unlike traditional remote controlled model aircraft which have been used by enthusiasts for many years. As such drones are likely to be operated in a way that may pose a greater risk to the general public and other aircraft. Unlike manned or model aircraft there are no established operating guidelines so operators may not be aware of the potential dangers or indeed the responsibility they have towards avoiding collisions. Anyone flying a drone either recreationally or commercially has to take responsibility for doing so safely.
Small unmanned aircraft systems (SUAS), sometimes also known as remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS), are now being widely used commercially in the UK. Permission to operate a SUAS for ‘aerial work’ is required from the CAA.
Click here to see a list of CAA approved SUA operators (we are number 1786)
At the present time there are no RPA pilot licenses recognised in aviation law. However, it is essential that pilots of any aircraft have at least a basic understanding of the applicable regulations, in particular the Air Navigation Order and Rules of the Air Regulations. Therefore, the CAA will require a potential RPA operator to demonstrate pilot competence before any operating permission is issued.
There are a variety of means of demonstrating pilot competence, the most common being to complete a course where the applicant demonstrates the necessary skills and knowledge by passing a ground exam and flight test. The CAA does not run these courses directly but instead approves commercial National Qualified Entities (NQEs) to conduct the training and assessment on the CAA’s behalf.
All of our pilots are RPQ-S qualified and assesses by:
Operators of unmanned aircraft must comply with Regulation (EC) 785/2004 ( Article 2) on Insurance Requirements for Air Carriers and Aircraft Operators. Operators of small unmanned aircraft and small unmanned surveillance aircraft are advised to consult the Regulation to determine the minimum level of insurance required.
We are insured with:
John Heath (UK) Limited.
142 Nantwich Road
01270 448 998
Special permission is also needed to fly a SUAS commercially or recreationally outside of the operating limits set out in the Air Navigation Order – this includes flights in congested areas.
The Air Navigation Order defines a congested area as being ‘any area of a city, town or settlement which is substantially used for residential, industrial, commercial or recreational purposes’
Permission must be obtained from the CAA to land or operate within a congested area. Permissions granted may be valid for one flight or for a period of up to 12 months.