Category

CAA and Regulation

Royal Wedding gatecrasher

By | CAA and Regulation, Drones

With the next Royal Wedding imminent, Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 May, the CAA has posted a Restricted Airspace (Temporary) over the Windsor area for the whole weekend, see http://skywise.caa.co.uk/alert-restricted-airspace-temporary-4/?cat=30.  NATS and Heathrow ATSU will have everything under control from an airline traffic perspective and will be hoping that the normal westerlies will prevail so the noise from any aircraft overhead can be minimised, especially during the marriage service itself.

Manned aviation operatives, being in touch with other ATSUs and possibly Heathrow itself, will be made aware of this restriction before venturing into the area on either of these days.  Commercial drone operators, the good ones at least, will also do their due diligence and realise the RA(T) applies to them and any drone operation as well.  NOTAMs relating drone operations in the Windsor area raised through the NSF procedure already appear on websites, so with the RA(T) in place, NATS is very unlikely to sanction any drone operation in the Windsor near or on these dates.

With the world media and press watching, it will be a momentous occasion but what is the probability that a non-regulated and irresponsible drone owner ‘tries it on’ on the day – just for that exclusive view or footage.  And if that happens will anti-drone technology be applied?  There has to be a big chance it will.

As a drone operator, will you watch the event on TV?  If you do, let’s hope you don’t see something you recognise crashing in on the scene.

John Moreland, Head of Training, DronePartners

EASA Opinion 01/18

By | CAA and Regulation

On 6 February 2018 EASA, the European Aviation Safety Agency, posted its Opinion 01/18 in its website,https://www.easa.europa.eu/document-library/opinions/opinion-012018.  At first glance it looks innocuous enough, especially as EASA is charged by the EU with bringing commonality or harmonisation to drone law across the EU.

 

Based on NPA2017-05, EASA wants EU states to implement the ‘Open’ and ‘Specific’ categories under the pretext that the Opinion will:

 

  • “implement an operation-centric, proportionate, risk- and performance-based regulatory framework for all UAS operations conducted in the ‘open’ and ‘specific’ categories;
  • ensure a high and uniform level of safety for UAS operations;
  • foster the development of the UAS market; and
  • contribute to addressing citizens’ concerns regarding security, privacy, data protection, and environmental protection.”

 

This Opinion will go forward to the EU Parliament and is expected to be enshrined in EU law later this year.

 

For the UK CAA, it will be a very interesting time.  Its response to NPA2017-05, seehttp://www.caa.co.uk/uploadedFiles/CAA/Content/Standard_Content/Our_work/Consultations/Responses_to_external_consultations/Files/20170914EASACRTNPA2017-05PartA.pdf, was politically correct but as it challenged almost every EASA precept it could be concluded that the CAA is not at all in favour of the proposals.

 

The Register, see https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/02/26/easa_drone_regs_opinion/, thinks the CAA and the UK Parliament will have to tow the line and incorporate all the Opinion in the proposed 2018 UK Drone Law.  This is like counting your chickens before they hatch.  Let’s see when Opinion 01/18 gets into EU Law, where the UK is with respect to Brexit and what other EU countries decide to do.  As much as EASA tries to dictate across Europe it hasn’t been very successful so far in the drone world.  When dealing with the NAA’s,  it’s worth remembering the First Article of the Rules of the Air:

 

“Every state has complete and exclusive sovereignty over airspace above its territory.”

The CAA may well revert to a Churchillian gesture with respect to EASA.

 

John Moreland, Head of Training, DronePartners

 

UAVs pose less of a risk to airliners than government officials claimed

By | CAA and Regulation, Drones

A British drone collision study used as evidence for the government’s flagship drone pilot registration law found UAVs pose less of a risk to airliners than government officials and trade unions have claimed.

The full report wasn’t published but it has been seen by the Register, there are some interesting observations – https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/01/04/qinetic_drone_collision_study_airliner_windows/

 

CAA Statutory Charges 2018/19: Consultation Document CAP1601

By | CAA and Regulation

The furore that has echoed around the drone industry since the CAA published its Consultation Document on its proposed Statutory Charges for 2018/19, effective 1 April 2018, would suggest that the CAA has raised the barrier to entry so high many existing drone businesses will be taken out and new ones will be discouraged from applying for a PfCO.

Yes, the charges for an initial PfCO are going up from £173 to £247 (a huge percentage), and the renewal is increasing from £130 to £185, but these once-a-year fees are miniscule compared to the going day rates charged by the better drone operators.  In return the CAA should improve its services in terms of responsiveness and turnaround times.  This has to be worth it.

Those that can see the opportunity will pay: it’s those who are struggling to make a decent living that may not renew.

And the operators aren’t the hardest hit.  NQEs and those wanting a non-standard permission are going to have to pay a much higher price.  For them guaranteeing a return on investment, with the fees coming straight off the bottom line, is going to be harder especially for NQEs as the number is multiplying at a rapid pace.

The CAA has recently indicated in private that the number of NQEs has expanded outside all expectations and, even though they receive a substantial fee from each but they need to maintain real credibility, impartiality and capability to process new drone industry entrants or they will face loosing their status.

The CAA has long provided a service on a shoestring.  With the new fee structure this industry should look forward to a more responsive, pro-active and involved CAA.  This industry needs to work with its regulator rather than expect everything to be handed to them for next to nothing.