Drone Laws Update – UK 2023

AUV Specific Category Operations
March 17, 2023

Specific Category Operations 2023

In December 2022, the CAA released CAP722H which was previously part of CAP722. It was made into a separate CAP presumably with the intention of growing the PDRA system as a workable solution to scale UK drone operations safely carried out within the Specific Category.

Currently, the only PDRA released by the CAA for UK drone operations is UKPDRA01 – VLOS Operations, which covers VLOS drone operations in the Specific Category within 150 metres of any Residential, Commercial, Industrial or Recreational area. A Standard Operating Risk Assessment (SORA) is in development, currently intended for consultation in 2024.

Pre-Defined Risk Assessment UKPDRA01 – VLOS Operations

UKPDRA01 is subject to the following operational conditions:

• UKPDRA01 applies to Visual Line Of Sight operations (VLOS) only, as defined in UK Regulation (EU) 2019/947 Article 2(7), and GM1 Article 2(7). The use of an observer situated next to the remote pilot is permitted to allow.

• Maximum height of the UAS is not to exceed 400ft AGL (above the surface). Structures/obstacles taller than 105m may be overflown by a maximum of 15m providing the UA remains within 50m horizontally of the structure or obstacle.

• Flight is permitted within 150 metres of any Residential, Commercial, Industrial or Recreational Area for UAS.

• Flight can be carried out during both daylight and night hours.  

• No flight should be carried out within 50 metres of any uninvolved person, however, this distance may be reduced to 30 metres. Any overflight of uninvolved people must be kept to a minimum.

• No flights should be carried out within restricted airspace (Restricted Areas, Danger Areas, Flight Restriction Zones (FRZ)) without relevant permission for access to that airspace.

• Any overflight of assemblies of people is prohibited.

• Flight within 50 metres horizontally of assemblies of people is prohibited.

The height of the UA must not exceed the horizontal distance from any assembly of people. (i.e. the 1:1 ‘rule’).

• Remote pilots operating alone must enable a technical means (e.g. containment system such as geo awareness) to prevent their aircraft from exiting the operational volume.

No dropping of Articles

No carriage of dangerous goods

PRE-DEFINED RISK ASSESSMENT – UKPDRA01

VLOS Operations within 150 metres of any Residential, Commercial, Industrial or Recreational Areas for UAS with a Maximum Take-Off Mass of less than 25kg

Technical Limitations for UKPDRA01

• UAS mass of less than 25kg (fixed wing or rotary wing).

• UAS equipped with a mechanism that makes it land in the event of loss or disruption of the C2 Link.

Suitable lighting to assist with visual conspicuity, and maintain situational awareness, and orientation of the UA.

Additional Requirements for UKPDRA01

• UAS Operators must produce an operations manual which details organisational information, how flights are performed and associated safety procedures’ (i.e. how maintenance activities are performed etc). CAP 722A contains further details (only the preliminary information/Ops manual Volume 1 element of the operations manual, including technical details, is required for this PDRA).

• All remote pilots involved in the operation must be in possession of a valid General VLOS Certificate (GVC).

• Unless renewing an existing PDRA01 Operational authorisation, in which case an NQE Recommendation will be accepted until 01st January 2024.

• All remote pilots involved in the operation must have had a minimum of 2 hours logged flying time in the previous 3 months on unmanned aircraft of a similar type.

 • Insurance cover to meet insurance regulatory requirements (EU 785/2004)

• Report occurrences in accordance with (EU 376/2014).

• Report accidents in accordance with (EU 996/2010) to the UK AAIB.S