Small Unmanned Aircraft Regulations

Small Unmanned Aircraft Regulations

The use of small unmanned aircraft (SUA) or ‘drones’ for aerial filming and other activities in the UK airspace is governed by the CAA.  SUA regulations and guidelines have been set, but they are also evolving as the technology and the industry evolves.   Note that what follows is a general summary and full details can be viewed on the CAA’s website where you will find links to the relevant documents and sections on each aspect of SUA operation according to weight and other criteria.
Surrey Visuals Ltd. have been issued with a ‘Permission for Aerial Work’ (PfAW) by the CAA having undergone the required training and flight assessment.  This permission is renewed annually. You should not employ any Company to undertake aerial photography unless they can produce a current PfAW. The CAA website also provides a link to the current SUA licensed operators within the UK.
These details may change over time so always use the CAA’s website for the latest versions.  The regulations are designed to make SUA flying safe for everyone i.e. Other airspace users, those on the ground and the SUA operators themselves.  To that end these are the basic rules to which all SUA pilots must adhere when flying SUA weighing 20 kg or less that are equipped with cameras of various types.  Beneath this summary you will find links to more information that goes into greater detail and which should answer most if not all questions regarding the legal limits and general guidelines.
1. The flight must not put anyone or anything in danger of injury or damage.
2. The aircraft should be kept within the unaided visual line of site of the Pilot in Charge (PIC) and in any case is a maximum of 400ft vertically and a distance of 500m horizontally.  Approval to operate flights beyond these limits must be obtained from the CAA.
3. Depending on the airspace in which the flight is to take place the PIC may need to obtain permission from the appropriate ATC (Air Traffic Control).
4. Not over or within 150m of a crowd of 1,000 persons or more.
5. Not within 50m of any person, vessel, vehicle, or structure which is not under the control of the PIC.
6. Not within 30m of any person, vessel, vehicle, or structure which is not under the control of the PIC whilst taking off / landing.
7. The PIC has the responsibility that the flight can be conducted safely.

If you hire Surrey Visuals for any purpose we will carry out an ‘open source’ and on site survey, as well as a risk assessment in order to ensure that we remain within the safe and legal limits for the flight.  These will include monitoring of the weather and wind strength as well as ongoing checks of our equipment and the flight operation area.   Obviously we will endeavour to complete all our assignments as efficiently as possible, but the PIC will always have the final say as to whether a flight is possible or should be cut short due changing circumstances.

More Information

1) General enquiries about SUAs and the CAA’s regulatory safety framework for commercial and recreational use: www.caa.co.uk/uas and www.caa.co.uk/cap722
2) Detailed guidance on operating SUA within London and other towns and cities: www.caa.co.uk/in2014081 and www.caa.co.uk/in2014115
3) UK Law: Air Navigation Order (ANO) Articles 166 and 167 pertaining to small unmanned aircraft: www.caa.co.uk/cap393
4) Demonstrating pilot competency at a National Qualified Entity (NQE) for the grant of CAA permission to work commercially (‘aerial work’): www.eurousc.com and www.resource-uas.co.uk and www.caa.co.uk/in2014044
5) Collecting images with an SUA:  Data Protection Act: www.caa.co.uk/in2013027
6) Information Commissioners Office – Surrey Visuals Ltd. Data Protection Register entry. (Search ‘Name’: MMJH)