New CAA/DfT Regulations Some good news

An update on the UK regulations for model flyers

The Science and Technology Parliamentary Select Committee will today publish their report into ‘commercial and recreational drone use in the UK’.

The BMFA provided several written inputs to the Committee on behalf of the UK model flying associations and BMFA CEO Dave Phipps appeared before the committee on the 9th July to provide oral evidence.

We are pleased to report that the Committee have incorporated many of the comments we provided as well as a number of comments submitted directly by members.

The Committee’s recommendations included a comment that “the registration system must be fit for purpose, and that its design should not stop users from registering”. The Committee also concluded that “the Government should not introduce any legislation that will unfairly impact upon the recreational drone and model flying community”.

Another recommendation put forward by the Committee was that “the Government consider a system which allows organised clubs and societies to register as one entity, so as not to financially burden each member. However, it must be mandatory for every individual user to adhere to the required safety standards. The Government should set out in response to this Report whether this should be demonstrated by the completion of an online test or an obligation on clubs to ensure their members have appropriate safety standards”.

The Committee also stated that “It is vital that the Government respects recreational drone use and model flying communities and ensures that any further regulation or legislation does not dissuade people from joining such communities”.

The Committee also called for a review of the CAA’s proposed registration fee and suggested that the renewal period should be every three years rather than annual.

The Committee called for the Government “to produce a White Paper by Summer 2020 that outlines the vision for how drones will be integrated into UK communities over the coming years. At a minimum, the White Paper should cover the role of registration, regulation, maximising the opportunities, minimising the risks, drone safety education and the technology required in order to implement their vision of drone integration into society in the next 20 years. The document should also set out a clear roadmap that outlines the steps that the Government and other agencies will take to achieve this future vision”.

The report is wide ranging and also touches on other aspects such as electronic conspicuity requirements.

Our hope is that the contents of the report will support the position of the model flying community in our ongoing negotiations with the DfT/CAA to help us arrive at a sensible outcome.

We will update this post with links to the document once it has been published.

I published an update on the BMFA website on 23rd August (https://bmfa.org/News/News-Page/ArticleID/2608/An-update-on-the-UK-regulations-for-model-flyers ) which provided a summary of our position at that time. This was also going to be the basis of my article for the forthcoming issue of the BMFA NEWS.

However, the very next day I received a telephone call to tell me that the new Secretary of State for Transport (the Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP) had picked up the case for us and would ‘be in touch’.

A few days later I received an invitation to attend a meeting with Grant at the Houses of Parliament. This meeting took place on Monday the 9th September and involved me (on behalf of the UK Model Flying Associations), Graham Brown from ARPAS (on behalf of commercial drone operators) and high-level delegations from both the CAA and DfT. The outcome of the meeting was that the CAA and DfT have been tasked to work in collaboration with us urgently to try and find an acceptable way forward.

This is very much work in progress and as such I cannot provide much definitive information at this time. Please monitor the BMFA website and Facebook page for further updates in due course.

However, what I can confirm already is that those who only fly control line aircraft will be exempted from the DRES requirements and I can also confirm that registration numbers can be carried in an easily accessible location (such as within battery compartments) rather than on the exterior of model aircraft. The registration fee is also likely to be subject to a change (for the better). These items are the starting point.

We would therefore encourage members not to rush into registering or taking the test when the DRES is rolled out in the next few weeks, until we have concluded our current round of discussions with the CAA and DfT and issued further guidance to members. For the time being, we would suggest that it remains ‘business as usual’.

Both the CAA and DfT have given a commitment to ‘re-set’ their relationships with the model flying community and work with us in close collaboration from this point forward, a very positive development which we greatly appreciate. It’s perhaps preferable to being inundated with correspondence from our magnificent members and their MP’s! Thanks again to all those members who have supported our relentless campaign so far.

Watch this space!

Dave Phipps CEO