top of page



Drone policy in the UK

Advancing Technology V's Regulations

With drone technology in an early stage of implementation into many industry, the economic landscape of these industries will change drastically.

Currently there are many discrepancies between aviation regulation around the world and UAV regulations. Here in the UK our governing body the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has taken a positive and practical stance regarding their usage and is keen for the industry to grow. At present the basic principles or aviation are researched and developed at a global level usually by an organisation like the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) which has 191 member states including the UK.  The guidance is then adopted by states around the world and written into law by national authorities. 


The CAA has also released the CAP 1789 - The EU UAS Regulation Package part of which came into force on the 1 July 2019  and the second part 1 July 2020. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is expected to publish additional information on certain parts of these regulations later in 2019.


It is the second part of this regulation on "the procedures and rules for the operation of unmanned aircraft"  which will apply to the UK in July 2020. This is subject to the effects of a possible UK exit from the EU.  


Updates on drone regulation 2019


CAP 1763 Air Navigation Order 2018 and 2019 Amendments – Guidance for Small Unmanned Aircraft users.

On the 20th February 2019 the UK Government published amendments to the UK Air Navigation Order 2016 (ANO). These amendment’s came into force on 13th March 2019. The areas covered by the amendment are summarised as:

  1. Effective from 13 March 2019 (the 2019 amendment)

    • A revised limitation on the closest distance that small unmanned aircraft of any mass may be flown from specific types of aerodrome

    • Changes to the dimensions of the ‘flight restriction zones’ associated with the new distance limitation from these ‘protected aerodromes’ and the introduction of new definitions in Schedule 1 in order to accommodate these changes.

  2. Effective from 30 November 2019 (the 2018 amendment)

    • A requirement for the registration of SUA operators

    • A requirement for the competency of remote pilots to be tested


What has changed:-

The ‘7 kg’ differentiation between small unmanned aircraft with regard to the types of airspace that can be flown in has now been removed and a single, simple limitation based on the revised flight restriction zone.

Article 94A- Small unmanned aircraft: permissions for certain flights now combines both the ‘400 ft height restriction’ and the restrictions on flights that are ‘over or near aerodromes’. However, it also confirms that for flights that take place within a ‘flight restriction zone’ at a protected aerodrome permission to fly above 400 ft is only required from the air traffic control unit or the flight information service unit at that protected aerodrome.

The limitation applies to ‘heights above/distances from’ the surface of the earth. It does not apply to tall buildings or other structures.

Article 94A also replaced the 2018 amendment (Article 94B)

Restrictions over or near aerodromes.

  • The types of aerodrome where these restrictions apply (protected aerodromes)

  • The form that the ‘flight restriction zones’ around these protected aerodromes will take

  • The level of restriction that is introduced

  • The relevant ‘aerodrome authority’ that can issue a permission to enter the flight restriction zone


Protected aerodromes

An aerodrome that has an Aerodrome Traffic Zone (ATZ) established around it, and so it is already recognised in aviation circles as an aircraft operating location that warrants some additional safeguarding. Although the ATZs are not marked on charts for aerodromes they are completely surrounded by a control zone (CTR).

  • A protected aerodrome can be one of the following:

  • An EASA certified aerodrome  (regular airport)

  • A Government aerodrome (military airfield)

  • A national licensed aerodrome (i.e. most smaller ‘General Aviation’ airfields, where the CAA has issued a licence to the airfield operator)


Flight restriction zones

You must not fly a small unmanned aircraft within the flight restriction zone of a protected aerodrome without first ensuring that you have permission to do so. The flight restriction zone is active at all times and applies to all small unmanned aircraft of any mass.

Primarily consists of two separate zones.

  • The ATZ at the protected aerodrome (radius of either 2nm or 2.5nm depending on the individual runway length and layout, and extending from the surface up to 2,000ft above the level of the aerodrome)

  • The runway protection zones4 at the protected aerodrome (defined in article 94B, but are essentially zones that measure 5km in length by 1km in width that extend from each runway threshold into the approach to that runway).


If the protected aerodrome does not have an established ATZ, the flight restriction zone takes the form of what is essentially a ‘2nm ATZ’ but without any runway protection zones (i.e. a 2nm circle from the mid point of the longest runway, from the surface up to 2,000 ft above the aerodrome’s level).

Permission to enter a flight restriction zone

Permission is always required before a small unmanned aircraft is flown within a flight restriction zone. How this permission is obtained varies and depends on the circumstances that apply at the time of the intended flight such as a manned air traffic control unit (ATC) or whether it is  outside of the operational hours of the ATC / FIS.


Article 94B – Interpretation of expressions used in the definition of “flight restriction zone”

Completely rewritten from the one that appeared in the 2018 amendment. It provides descriptions of the terms that have been used in article 94A, as well as highlighting any ‘special cases’ that have been made.

The article specifies:

  • The dimensions of the runway protection zone – a rectangular portion of airspace measuring 5km long by 1km wide extending from the surface to a height of 2,000ft above the level of the aerodrome. The zone extends away from each runway threshold (which is a surveyed point) on an aerodrome, into the approach ‘lane’ for that runway.

  • What an ‘additional boundary zone’ is and how it is determined


Residual Changes that are still applicable from the 2018 amendment

Article 7 – Meaning of ‘commercial operation’

Article 20 – Application of the Order to the Crown

Article 23 – Exceptions from the provisions of the Order

Article 94C - Certain small unmanned aircraft: registration of SUA operator

  • This article is simply an ‘establishing’ article which gives a legal instruction to the CAA to create a scheme for the registration of SUA operators by 1 October 2019.


Article 94D - Certain small unmanned aircraft: requirement for registration as SUA operator

From 30 November 2019. It sets out the requirements that will be in place for registration which are essentially:

  • The registration requirements only apply to SUA operators

  • SUA operators are only required to be registered if they are operating small unmanned aircraft that have a mass of 250 grams or more

  • An SUA operator must have a valid registration when his/her small unmanned aircraft if flown and the registration number must be displayed on the aircraft

  • A remote pilot must not fly a small unmanned aircraft unless he/she is happy that the SUA operator has a valid registration and the registration number is displayed on the aircraft


Article 94E - Certain small unmanned aircraft: competency of remote pilots

  • an ‘establishing’ article which gives a legal instruction to the CAA to create a scheme for the competence testing of remote pilots by 1 October 2019


Article 94F - Certain small unmanned aircraft: requirement for acknowledgement of competency

From 30 November 2019 it sets out the requirements that will be in place for remote pilot competency testing

  •  Remote pilots are only required to undertake a competency test if they are flying a small unmanned aircraft that has a mass of 250 grams or more

  • A remote pilot must not fly a small unmanned aircraft unless he/she can demonstrate that he/ she is competent

  • An SUA operator must not allow his/her aircraft to be flown unless satisfied that the remote pilot has passed the appropriate competency test


Article 94G - Meaning of “remote pilot” and “SUA operator”

Article 95 – Small unmanned surveillance aircraft



bottom of page