DfT announces amendments to the Air Navigation Order

Changes to legislation will come into force on 13 March 2019

On 20 February 2019 the UK Government announced amendments to the UK Air Navigation Order 2016 (ANO). This includes changes to aspects of the previous ANO that was published on 30 May 2018.

These unexpected amendments are widely seen as a ‘knee-jerk’ reaction following the media coverage of the Gatwick and Heathrow ‘events’.  No consultation was undertaken with stakeholders (eg the model flying associations).

Regular readers may recall that we recently wrote about the potential damage caused by the publicity to the (unproven) incidents at Gatwick and Heathrow.  In that article we called for caution and specifically warned of the danger of knee jerk reactions to unproven events, which, would have been illegal under existing laws anyway.  Unfortunately it seems that exactly what we feared has happened.

The CAA has summarised these new changes in its CAP 1763 document.

In a nutshell, the highlight of the amendments is the new flight restriction zones (see map below) which is active at all times. The new ‘no-fly zone’ areas apply to all small unmanned aircraft of any mass (article 94, paragraph 4 and 4A have been deleted). The new text implies that, if you would like to fly any unmanned aircraft within these restriction zones, you need to obtain permission from air traffic control at the aerodrome every single time.  In some cases these new areas include existing flying fields with many decades of safe operations. 

The new regulation has no minimum weight limit – if you’re in a restricted zone, even flying a paper aeroplane in your back garden will become illegal from 13th March 2019.

The government has also announced that it will give police new anti-drone misuse stop and search powers. It has also partnered with retailer Jessops, as part of a national awareness and training campaign ahead of the new law. No further details on this have been published yet.

The model flying associations have contacted the DfT and the CAA with specific questions on how these changes will affect existing, established, flyers in the affected areas. 

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