In June this year, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) consulted the drone-flying public about whether the current provisions for legacy drone should be extended beyond then end of the year.
As things stand, this would see existing drones that weigh over 250g, such as the DJI Mavic 3 and DJI Air 2S, being shifted into the A3 ‘far from people’ sub-category of the drone regulations, meaning that pilots without the General Visual Line of Sight Certificate (GVC) and the CAA’s operational authorisation, could only fly their drones at least 150m from residential, commercial, industrial or recreational areas, and 50m from uninvolved people.
Legacy drones are those which don’t have the classification markings introduced by the new drone regulations at the end of 2020. The problem in the UK (and wider) is that there is still no mechanism for classifications to be awarded to drone and as yet, there are no classified drones.
The CAA has now revealed that 78.16% of respondents think that the provisions should be extended for longer than 24 months. With this in mind, the CAA has recommended to the Department of Transport that:
All provisions should be extended indefinitely and the class marking scheme should be re-evaluated. This will form part of a larger investigation into the current UAS Open Category regulatory framework and what is most suitable for the United Kingdom. This is to ensure any solution suitably addresses the needs of the community as well as addresses safety and security risks in a proportional manner. Notwithstanding a re-evaluation of the class marking scheme an extension should be indefinite at least until the consumer can purchase Class Marked UAS on the open market. At that point, consideration could be given to the re-introduction of a transitional period. This would ensure that the regulated community has a suitable amount of time to naturally phase out older UAS whilst at the same time having the option to purchase Class Marked UAS. This approach would significantly mitigate almost all areas of concern raised in the responses to the consultation.
Hopefully, the Department of Transport will listen to the CAA, the expert body in drone legislation, and will begin the process for changing the law in the near future – ideally before the end of this year!