Ten things you may not know, but should, about drone regulations

PhantomFlightSchool is here to help you every step of the way with your drone adventure

Drone Registration around the World

  1. The UK Registration process confirms two important points which are very good news for us drone pilots:
    1. It makes clear that the CAA agree with our long-held understanding that it is perfectly legal to take-off and land on any public footpath or bridleway, so long as there isn’t a byelaw in place that “trumps” this basic right. The best example of this byelaw point is the National Trust, who have the power to pass byelaws, and have done so to prevent taking off and landing anywhere on National Trust owned land.  But note they can’t stop you flying your drone over their land, any more than anyone can stop you flying your drone over their land – the air above our heads belongs to all of us
    2. It also makes clear that the 50metre rule applies by “creating a dome” with a 50metre radius over anyone or anything that is not under your control.  So by flying at a height of 50metre plus the height of the thing you are overflying, you can fly over other people, over roads, over houses and other buildings
  2. Drone registration was first proposed by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in June 2017, and was adopted by the European Parliament in June 2019. It is one part of a large body of new EU drone regulations that will take effect from 1 July 2020 (see points 7 to 10 below).  The CAA is committed to following EASA recommendations whether the UK stays in the EU or not.  Hence the introduction of drone registration in the UK
  3. If you want to fly your drone in France, you must register your drone under the French drone registration scheme. Good news, the test can be done in English, the rules in France are very similar to those in the UK, and registering to fly in France is free.
  4. From June 2020, if you want to fly your drone anywhere in the EU, you will be obliged to register your drone in an EU country. The good news is that once you are registered in one EU country, you are clear for take-off in all EU countries
  5. If you want to fly in the USA, you will need to pay a $5 fee and register your drone with the FAA: https://www.faa.gov/uas/getting_started/register_drone/
  6. If you want to fly in Canada as a foreign national, you need to apply for a Special Flight Operations Certificate from Transport Canada.  To obtain this, you need to prove your competence, which in practice means you must hold a UK PfCO, or you will need to complete the Canadian online 3 hour Basic Course.  Email us if you would like more information, and our help in obtaining permission to fly in Canada

Drone Identification

  1. From 1 July 2020, every new drone weighing more than 250gms sold in the EU will have to be fitted with:
    1. A system for transmitting the location of the drone, and of the drone pilot, in such a way that anyone who is interested can see this information
    2. A transponder that means it is clearly visible to manned aircraft
    3. Note that this only applies to new drones being sold. You will have until June 2022 to retrofit such a device to your existing drones.  These devices are expected to be very lightweight (less than 10gms) and relatively affordable (less than £20)
  2. This is great news for all of us who want to enjoy flying and photographing with our drones, as it will greatly reassure the general public to know that the police can track the location of any drone and drone pilot, and it is bound to lead to a significant reduction in people flying drones where they shouldn’t, as they will know that they are much more likely to get caught. Especially as more and more police forces around the country (we are up to twelve and counting) recruit full-time “Drone Enforcers” to take action against pilots flying their drone illegally

Replacing the PfCO

  1. Again on 1 July 2020, across the EU and in the UK, the Permission for Commercial Operations that you must obtain in order to charge money for your drone work, will end. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) says that there is no difference in the riskiness of a commercial flight, compared with a recreational flight.  So from 1 July 2020, flights will instead be rated as “safe” or “dangerous”.  Safe flights, whether commercial or recreational, will be regulated in a similar way to recreational flights at the moment.  In order to undertake a dangerous flight, and by dangerous EASA means “anywhere near people or property”, you will need to prove your competence to undertake such a flight.  We expect the “proof of competence” requirements to be very similar to the current hoops you must jump through to get your PfCO.  Troublingly for those of us who want or need to fly close to people and buildings, EASA have not yet said what they mean by “anywhere near”.  So we expect there to be something of a hiatus, come July 2020, while the whole thing gets sorted out
  2. Which is why there has never been a better time to get your PfCO. Because those of us who have our PfCO can continue to fly under PfCO Rules until June 2022.  So getting your PfCO now means that you will be able to continue to fly to within 50metres of anything and anybody not under your control all the way through to the end of June 2022.  We have just 60 places available on our PfCO Courses running from February to June 2020, at a price of just £895 for everything you need to immediately apply for your PfCO from the CAA.

13 thoughts on “Ten things you may not know, but should, about drone regulations

  1. Stephen Sales says:

    I got my PFCO with you last year on 28/05/19. Do you offer an Ops manual update to take into consideration the new regs since then? It feels to me as though the new regs are a mine field and I will most certainly need help incorporating them into my ops manual.
    Stephen S

    • Alan Proto says:

      Hi there Stephen,
      We agree with you that there have been a lot of changes to the regulations, and hence to the required wording of a compliant Operations Manual, since you completed your PfCO with us. The drone sector is a new industry, and we respect the CAA’s determination to change the rules when they recognise they can be improved.

      The good news is, we do offer an update service. It costs just £99 + VAT. We need some input from you, as it is important that this remains your Ops Manual. My chief pilot Simon Smith will be in touch shortly to confirm those details and get your up to date Operations Manual over to you.

      All the best
      Team PhantomFlightSchool

  2. Alan Locke says:

    Hi there,
    I already have a Drone Flying Competence Certificate, which I took with your Phantom Flight School, also I have obviously my Flyer ID plus Operator ID, plus Public Liability Insurance up to £12 million and £10.000 of Personal Accident Insurance…. So does that mean I can fly lower than the 50 metre ? or do I still have to stick to that same rule….??
    Just so I’m sure…. thanks a lot..


  3. Leslie Cavendish says:

    Hi Alan
    Just to say a very big thank you for all you have done for me I very much appreciate that.
    I have downloaded the information and I also note the Grandfathering Rights, thank you.
    I wish you and your team a very Happy Christmas, and a great and busy New Year !
    Leslie Cavendish

    • Alan Proto says:

      That’s what really understanding the rules gives you – real freedom to fly your drone where you want to. Enjoy! The PFS “here to help with your drone adventure” Team

  4. Zoltan says:

    Thx for these updates PFS .
    Pretty good stuff and prove the PFS’s promise to help the pilots as much as they can . Thx again for your effort . 👍

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