An Update on the UK Regulations for Model Flyers

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Rob Buckley
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An Update on the UK Regulations for Model Flyers

Postby Rob Buckley » August 23rd, 2019, 8:28 am

We would like to record our thanks to all those members who responded to our ‘Call to Action’ in response to CAP1775, the CAA’s consultation of the Drone Registration and Education Scheme (DRES) for which they are expecting our members to contribute a significant element of the annual £2.8 million running costs.

The response from our members was fantastic, with the CAA receiving over 11,000 responses to the consultation – the biggest ever response they have ever received to anything. Despite the huge response to their proposals, the current indications are that the CAA & DfT have essentially dismissed it and will plough on with the scheme outlined in CAP1775 regardless. The CAA’s response to CAP1775 is due to be published by the end of August.

The Aviation Minister / DfT are still of the firm opinion that all model aircraft flyers (ie those over 18) should register as operators individually, and that it would not be appropriate for the Associations to register on their members' behalf or be granted any exemptions against the DRES requirements. This appears to be solely to make the job of the police easier when checking papers / identifying miscreants rather than any safety reason.

The only potential concession suggested by the CAA/allowed by the DfT would be to permit the UK Associations to upload operator registration data for those members joining/renewing by the end of January 2020. All members would still have to pay the full fee however, and this would require the Associations to collect the fee from every member to pass on to the CAA. Due to transaction charges, we would have to collect a little over £17 from every member in order to pass on £16.50 to the CAA. Members joining/renewing after the end of January would have to register/pay directly on the DRES website regardless.

In addition, all members (including juniors) will still be required to take the CAA’s Remote Pilot competency test on the DRES website and Association Proficiency will not be recognised at this time.

Considering all the above factors, the situation remains unacceptable to the UK Associations. After nine months of being slow timed/fobbed off/ignored, we feel that it is important that we now work to establish a clear position so that members know where they stand in good time for 2020 renewals.

The situation can be summarised as follows:

1. At the present time, the UK Associations will have no direct involvement in the registration of their individual members into the DRES as operators or confirmation of their competency as remote pilots.

2. Compliance with the requirements of the DRES will therefore be entirely a matter for individual members to decide upon.

3. Whilst the UK Associations would obviously encourage members to participate in the DRES, we will have no direct involvement with it and cannot monitor or enforce compliance (coupled with the fact that only those members flying aircraft weighing more than 250g outdoors are required to register). Compliance will therefore be advisory rather than a condition of membership.

4. However, it is important to note that the insurance cover provided to members covers ‘lawful and recognised activities’ and as such cover could only be assured for those operating lawfully (which includes participation in the DRES where required from the 30th November) which members should consider when deciding how to proceed. We are still working with insurers to clarify the final position in terms of members and clubs.

One of the main reasons cited by those members indicating their intention not to comply with DRES has been their reluctance to be added to a list of ‘potential suspects’ in the event of another ‘Gatwick incident’, which is fully understandable given the disgraceful way in which the Police and media dealt with an innocent model flyer. However, we have received assurances that the registration information will be held securely by the CAA and the level of access routinely granted to the Police will only confirm whether someone’s registration number is current. For an individual’s full contact details to be accessed would require a written application to the CAA from the Police for a clearly defined reason.

The other main reason cited by members indicating non-compliance with the DRES is in objection to the imposition of mandatory competency tests. Many model flyers consider this to be a measure primarily introduced to deal with unlawful ‘drone’ operations, with no differentiation/recognition for the century of safe operation established by model flyers and no recognition of any existing achievements held by individuals. The DRES website does however include comprehensive training material on what is being tested and the test is very easy, with the required pass mark being 16 out of 20 questions. The system does highlight any incorrect answers afterwards (and tells you what the answer should have been) and you can take the test as many times as required. The CAA will provide telephone support to anyone encountering difficulties with the system and we understand that a hard copy of the test will be mailed out on request to those without internet access.

Additional police powers to enforce the DRES, issue fixed penalty notices etc. are due to be introduced in the DfT’s Unmanned Aircraft Bill which has not yet started the parliamentary process, so may or may not be in force by the end of November.

It is regrettable that we have been placed in this deeply unsatisfactory position by a combination of the lack of imagination and intransigence of the DfT/Aviation Minister coupled with the ineffectiveness of the CAA in fighting our corner. We had hoped that a change in Government and in particular the appointment of Grant Shapps as the new Secretary of State for Transport might help our cause, but there is little evidence yet to indicate that his strong support of model flying from the backbench has transferred to his cabinet role.

There are still ongoing issues to be clarified with the CAA (such as our opposition to carrying external registration markings and whether control line aircraft can be excluded from the requirements) and we will provide further updates on progress in due course.

Following our most recent meeting on the 19th August, we are awaiting written advice from the CAA which we expect in the next few days. We are also working with insurers to clarify any insurance implications. Once in receipt on this information, we will then issue our assessment of the options available for the members of the UK model flying Associations and affiliated clubs.
We hope this clarifies the current situation. We will continue our battle in the hope that the situation for UK model flyers can be improved, especially when the more favourable European Regulations come into effect (hopefully) in July 2020, which we believe remains the intent regardless of BREXIT.

In the meantime, please continue to make your views known to the DfT/CAA and your local MP to help us keep the fight ‘alive’.
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Re: An Update on the UK Regulations for Model Flyers

Postby Bob Thompson1894 » August 24th, 2019, 7:20 am

So not only are the model associations going to be the DfTs police force, now they are to be tax collectors? I know the pathetic test is not a problem for any of us, and the money is not huge (yet) but this is beyond stupid.

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Re: An Update on the UK Regulations for Model Flyers

Postby Rob Buckley » August 24th, 2019, 7:45 am

Have you actually read all of the above Bob?

Just before halfway down...

The situation can be summarised as follows:

1. At the present time, the UK Associations will have no direct involvement in the registration of their individual members into the DRES as operators or confirmation of their competency as remote pilots.

2. Compliance with the requirements of the DRES will therefore be entirely a matter for individual members to decide upon.

3. Whilst the UK Associations would obviously encourage members to participate in the DRES, we will have no direct involvement with it and cannot monitor or enforce compliance (coupled with the fact that only those members flying aircraft weighing more than 250g outdoors are required to register). Compliance will therefore be advisory rather than a condition of membership.
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Re: An Update on the UK Regulations for Model Flyers

Postby Bob Thompson1894 » August 24th, 2019, 8:27 am

"The only potential concession suggested by the CAA/allowed by the DfT would be to permit the UK Associations to upload operator registration data for those members joining/renewing by the end of January 2020. All members would still have to pay the full fee however, and this would require the Associations to collect the fee from every member to pass on to the CAA. Due to transaction charges, we would have to collect a little over £17 from every member in order to pass on £16.50 to the CAA. Members joining/renewing after the end of January would have to register/pay directly on the DRES website regardless."

Yes, I read it. And this is the bit, I think every club secretary will be dreading this. We already have to check on insurance for all club members- made easier by the BMFA new portal- and if the registering is to be a condition of insurance, we will then be responsible for ensuring all our members are complying. Have you heard the expression, 'herding cats'? Getting our 100 plus members to take an A test (or LMA Prof) is a full time job, it has taken me six months to get all members registered on the portal, telling our members they are not allowed to fly until they take the online test and pay their £16.50 is not something I wish to do.

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Re: An Update on the UK Regulations for Model Flyers

Postby Bob Thompson1894 » August 24th, 2019, 8:34 am

"However, it is important to note that the insurance cover provided to members covers ‘lawful and recognised activities’ and as such cover could only be assured for those operating lawfully (which includes participation in the DRES where required from the 30th November) "

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Re: An Update on the UK Regulations for Model Flyers

Postby Dave Parry » August 24th, 2019, 8:38 am

Well done Rob, we appreciate what you and BMFA are doing, even though it seems to be fruitless with the DfT. god it must be so flustrating.

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Re: An Update on the UK Regulations for Model Flyers

Postby Rob Buckley » August 24th, 2019, 8:51 am

That is what we are NOT doing. It gives no benefit at all, generates more work and costs us more money.

As a club, do you check the driving license, V5, MOT & motor insurance of everyone who drives onto your flying site? They are all legally required, and motor vehicles kill quite a few people every year

We're continuing to work closely with the insurers to see how we can manage the insurance even if members don't don't comply with the registration / testing, as we as a community do not want to allow ourselves to be drawn into policing regulations imposed on us for no justifiable safety reason.

The government have made up these regulations and are giving the police new powers to enforce them. As responsible citizens it is our duty to let the police carry out their jobs unhindered, and enforce these unmanned aircraft rules without any interference or involvement by us.
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Re: An Update on the UK Regulations for Model Flyers

Postby Rob Buckley » August 24th, 2019, 8:53 am

'flustrating'...I like that, sums it up well. A blend of frustration & a toilet!
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Re: An Update on the UK Regulations for Model Flyers

Postby Peter Siggins » August 24th, 2019, 9:37 am

Thanks for all the info Rob - just wondering is this the end of it ,or the beginning of a load more regulations too our safety conscious hobby.
Can’t see it achieving any of their purported aims - getting the uninsured drone flyers and others to toe the line

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Re: An Update on the UK Regulations for Model Flyers

Postby Adrian Smith » August 24th, 2019, 11:18 am

Rob, may I ask that you post the DRES link that shows the training material etc for the proposed test. It's probably in front of my nose, but I can't seem to find it! Thanks. Adrian

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Re: An Update on the UK Regulations for Model Flyers

Postby Rob Buckley » August 24th, 2019, 11:29 am

Can't I'm afraid, as it not going to be finished & live until 1 October and there is no public link to the development version.
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Re: An Update on the UK Regulations for Model Flyers

Postby Olivier_Vandebroucke » August 24th, 2019, 11:43 am

Okay, great to hear a run-down of the situation.
What would be the situation for foreign model pilots? If I were to come from Belgium with a flying model, which rules should I abide to if I wanted to demonstrate it at a show in the UK?

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Re: An Update on the UK Regulations for Model Flyers

Postby Paul Savage 1568 » August 24th, 2019, 12:45 pm

Thanks for the update Rob and thanks for the time and effort that you yourself and others have have put into this on all our behalves. My response below is in no way aimed at any of the guys and girls who work tirelessly in the background but it is my take on the situation.

Basically, give all your data to the governing body, do an online test that you can't really fail, pay them some money every year and away you go and whilst your at it, you guys running legitimate clubs or associations can now become unpaid tax collectors for legislation that you neither needed nor asked for. I'll bet all those nasty people operating drones and model aircraft illegally will be queuing up to participate, or maybe not.

I guess we will all just have to accept that operating a model aircraft in the U.K is about to get a bit more complicated and a bit more expensive. With our insurance providers seemingly being put into an impossible situation then a mass refusal to participate in this ridiculous scheme is out of the question as we will likely be operating without valid insurance cover.

The thought of just packing the whole thing in has been on my mind for quite a while recently to the point where I simply haven't been particularly active and I'll bet I'm not alone but I suspect that this would just be playing directly into the hands of the " we know what's best for you " bureaucrats in charge.

Like Peter mentioned in his post earlier, is the the end of it or just the beginning, I suspect the latter.

So, can we all look forwards to a future whereas every model pilot of whom's data is stored on said register and have paid for that privilege and who just happens to reside within 5 kilometers of the next alleged illegal drone incursion being duly visited by the police and having to answer for a crime they didn't commit. That'll be fun won't it.

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Re: An Update on the UK Regulations for Model Flyers

Postby Rob Buckley » August 24th, 2019, 5:43 pm

More Regulation-

There's the 'drones' Unmanned Aircraft Bill from the DfT that will include some extra requirements on operators and extra police powers / fines we're told. We have not seen a draft though, and don't know when it will be published / start its parliamentary journey.

The EASA requirements for small unmanned aircraft are all published and come into force in June 2020 with a 3 year transition phase. They are better than the current UK rules, as they specifically cater for model aircraft associations like ours under an 'Article 16' operating permission, but in the meantime we have what we have now.

Overseas Visitors-

Foreign visitors who want to fly in the UK will have to comply with the same requirements as UK residents, so they will have to fly under a registered operator (or register as an operator themselves) and pass the online competency test as a remote pilot before they fly. The hope in the future would be to have mutual recognition for visitors from other EASA states / other nations, but that's as part of an Article 16 permission, so not yet.

Police Powers-

The police will NOT, the DRES developers have told us, have access to the database to do a 'location trawl' of everyone who lives in a certain area and is an operator / remote pilot. A specific written application will need to be made for every individual set of details they request, and will need the registration number to base the request on, rather than a location.
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Re: An Update on the UK Regulations for Model Flyers

Postby Bob Thompson1894 » August 25th, 2019, 6:21 am

Rob Buckley wrote:That is what we are NOT doing. It gives no benefit at all, generates more work and costs us more money.

As a club, do you check the driving license, V5, MOT & motor insurance of everyone who drives onto your flying site? They are all legally required, and motor vehicles kill quite a few people every year

We're continuing to work closely with the insurers to see how we can manage the insurance even if members don't don't comply with the registration / testing, as we as a community do not want to allow ourselves to be drawn into policing regulations imposed on us for no justifiable safety reason.

The government have made up these regulations and are giving the police new powers to enforce them. As responsible citizens it is our duty to let the police carry out their jobs unhindered, and enforce these unmanned aircraft rules without any interference or involvement by us.

Oddly enough, if you fly on an active airfield, as many of us do, your car insurance may be null and void....my point is that if someone does not register, are the committee then liable for not checking? Especially if it means their BMFA/LMA insurance is invalid?

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Re: An Update on the UK Regulations for Model Flyers

Postby paul morris » August 25th, 2019, 8:15 am

Does this mean that Grant Shapps who as back bench MP who fought our corner for us is another MP who does not stand by his word and should not be trusted.

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Re: An Update on the UK Regulations for Model Flyers

Postby Steve Perry » August 25th, 2019, 9:26 pm

What this means is that if the insurance company will wave the requirement to register then a mass boycott is on the cards !

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Re: An Update on the UK Regulations for Model Flyers

Postby Bob Thompson1894 » August 26th, 2019, 7:24 am

Steve Perry wrote:What this means is that if the insurance company will wave the requirement to register then a mass boycott is on the cards !

not so much a boycott as mass apathy...took me six months to get all club members on to the BMFA portal, and some had to have it done for them. I cant imagine the mess this is going to be.

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Re: An Update on the UK Regulations for Model Flyers

Postby stuart knowles 1611 » August 26th, 2019, 8:11 am

Rob, What reasons do 'the other side' put forward for requiring registration to be annual and not say 5 yearly?

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Re: An Update on the UK Regulations for Model Flyers

Postby Bob Thompson1894 » August 26th, 2019, 8:51 am

money.....lol


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