December 2021 marks the first anniversary, and the third issue, of the FPV UK Article 16 Operational Authorisation. This third issue is valid from 21st December 2021 until 31st December 2022.
The authorisation means FPV UK members have an excellent alternative to the Open Category drone rules (The A16 OA actually falls under the Specific Category of the implementing regulation instead of the Open category.)
When flying under the A16 OA, drone C markings and location A subcategories do not apply. The operational authorisation applies to any aircraft you want to fly – so long as it weighs less than 25kg. You can fly your aircraft in more locations, higher, and closer to uninvolved people than the Open Category drone rules.
Unlike the Open Category rules, with this authorisation FPV UK members can fly in a built-up area user only for recreational purposes. An example of such an area is a public park. You only need to undertake a simple risk assessment to confirm it is safe to fly here.
Guidance on completing a risk assessment can be found in the FPV UK handbook.
You are permitted to fly ‘not-within’ 30 metres of uninvolved people in any direction. You can imagine this space as a bubble over uninvolved people, with a radius person-to-drone of 30 metres. That includes overflying those uninvolved people, if it is safe to do so.
A 30 metre horizontal distance requirement applies only when it involves ‘assemblies of people’. This refers to groups of people who cannot easily move out of the way. For instance, people at a concert, or a protest.
The CAA has issued our association with these consecutive operational authorisations based on our excellent safety record. And because of our thorough safety guidance and procedures (which are detailed in the FPV UK handbook). The CAA trusts that FPV UK members will follow the rules and common sense guidance provided in our handbook, and will report occurences when things go wrong.
You can read the full FPV UK Article 16 Operational Authorisation here. We keep members up to date about any changes to the regulations on this website.
When EASA (the European Union Aviation Safety Agency) developed their new drone regulations they included the following text.
Since model aircraft are considered as UAS and given the good safety level demonstrated by model aircraft operations in clubs and associations, there should be a seamless transition from the different national systems to the new Union regulatory framework, so that model aircraft clubs and associations can continue to operate as they do today, as well as taking into account existing best practices in the Member States.
Article 16 gave the means to facilitate this transition. Article 16 of the implementing regulation reads as follows.
1. Upon request by a model aircraft club or association, the CAA may issue an authorisation for UAS operations in the framework of model aircraft clubs and associations.
2. The authorisation referred to in paragraph 1 shall be issued in accordance with any of the following:
(b) established procedures, organisational structure and management system of the model aircraft club or association, ensuring that:
i. remote pilots operating in the framework of model aircraft clubs or associations are informed of the conditions and limitations defined in the authorisation issued by the CAA;
ii. remote pilots operating in the framework of model aircraft clubs or associations are assisted in achieving the minimum competency required to operate the UAS safely and in accordance with the conditions and limitations defined in the authorisation;
iii. the model aircraft club or association takes appropriate action when informed that a remote pilot operating in the framework of model aircraft clubs or associations does not comply with the conditions and limitations defined in the authorisation, and, if necessary, inform the CAA;
iv. the model aircraft club or association provides, upon request from the CAA, documentation required for oversight and monitoring purposes.
3. The authorisation referred to in paragraph 1 shall specify the conditions under which operations in the framework of the model aircraft clubs or associations may be conducted.
4. The CAA may, after consultation with the Secretary of State, enable model aircraft clubs and associations to register their members into the registration systems established in accordance with Article 14 on their behalf. If this is not the case, the members of model aircraft clubs and associations shall register themselves in accordance with Article 14.
The UK adopted the EU regulations for UAS on 31st December 2020 and they were copied into UK law at midnight on that day.
We applied, and paid for, our Article 16 Operational Authorisation from the CAA to benefit our members. This process involved a comprehensive audit of our processes and procedures, our member guidance, our reporting procedures, our risk assessment methodologies, etc.
We are pleased to give our members more freedoms to fly their drones and model aircraft with the issue and reissuing of this authorisation.
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