CAA opens consultation on proposed new drone regulations

The UK Civil Aviation Authority has unveiled proposals which it says aim to make drone flights safer and to make it easier for drone users to understand and comply with regulations.

Proposed changes have been published in a consultation by the regulator that will allow the continued expansion of drone flying, while also increasing the safety and security of drone operations. The CAA’s proposals cover a range of areas, including proposed changes to drones themselves to be implemented by manufacturers.

They are based on initial feedback from the drone community following an earlier call for input on many of the same subjects, as well as input from the Department for Transport, Home Office and Police.

Among the changes proposed are a simplification of regulations by reducing complexity in operational requirements in the ‘open’ category, renaming operational sub-categories to ‘over’, ‘near’ and ‘far’, and removing confusing exemptions for ‘toy’ drones.

The proposals also aim to increase education and understanding of regulations by requiring flyers of drones under 250g to take the free online Flyer ID test, increasing the guidance and information digitally provided to users via their drone controllers and displays, and improving CAA guidance material. The CAA says plans have also been outlined to enable safe and secure airspace through the introduction of remote ID, geo-awareness and geo-fencing functionality for certain categories of drones.

Kevin Woolsey, co-head of remotely piloted aircraft systems at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said: “We want to make sure that the use of drones continues to safely expand and that regardless of whether people are flying for fun or commercially they understand the rules and regulations. These proposals will help make the UK’s drone regulations fit for today and for the future. We want them to be clear and accessible for users while making sure they deliver the levels of safety and security required.

“We’ve listened to the drone community and believe what we are proposing will make it easier for drone users to understand the requirements and fly safely. We’re now keen to hear from everyone involved via the consultation.”

The consultation will close on 10 January 2024 after which the CAA’s final recommendations will be put to the Department for Transport to decide whether to progress with legislative change.

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