If you have an interest in drones then you have likely heard that the UK Drone Regulations changed on December 31, 2020, significant for Drones Under 250g. These changes are still prevelant today in 2023. While the CAA still regulates UK airspace, the new regulations are intended to align with those of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to allow free circulation of drones with Europe
The new rules change the way that drone flights are regulation and classified focussing on the type of drone and where you intend to fly it rather than whether your flight is “commercial” or just for fun. From a safety, perspective makes a great deal of sense, as the potential risk posed by a drone is the same no matter the reason for your flight.
This is quite a major change from the previous way drone flights have been regulated and potentially offers great opportunities to carry out missions that would have been hugely restricted previously.
Age restrictions have changed for drone flights in the Open Category (read more about the Open Category here)
A1 – No Age Restriction for drones regarded as “toys” however all other drones fitted with a camera (eg. Mavic Mini) must be operated by a person over the age of 12 (if flying solo)
A2 / A3 – All flights in the A2 or A3 categories must be carried out by a pilot aged 12 years or older
You will need an Operator ID if your drone is not considered a “toy”, even if it is under 250g. The Mavic Mini, for example, requires you to register for a Flyer ID.
Check with the CAA here to determine if you need an Operator ID
You can apply for registration here:
You should still abide by The Drone Code – The CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) published The Drone and Model Aircraft Code in October 2019, which is clear guidance for flying drones and model aircraft of 20kg or less in the UK, however, drones of less than 250g can fly closer to people and built-up areas.
• Always keep your drone or model aircraft in direct sight. You must be able to see your drone at all times unaided (if you wear glasses that’s fine but it means you can’t use binoculars!)
• Never fly more than 400ft (120m) above the surface and stay well away from aircraft, airports, and airfields.
• Never overfly an assembly of people. Never fly directly over a crowd
• • Never fly in an airport’s flight restriction zone
Drones under 250g can:
Fly with no minimum horizontal distance from uninvolved people (NOT crowds … see above)
Fly with no minimum horizontal distance from built-up areas
When you’re thinking about how close you can fly, remember, that you must never put people in danger. Even small drones and model aircraft could injure people if you don’t fly them safely.
Further info on flying in the Open Category can be found in CAP2012.