What Changed in Drone Laws in 2021?

Mavic Enterprise Advanced Thermal Dron
December 7, 2021

2021 was such an important year for drone laws in the UK. Although the UK left the EU, as a country we retained the EU law that covers drone use. The UK now falls under a range of EU UAS Implementing Regulations and Amendments considered together as the “UAS Regulations”.

Along with this, a large revamp/updates to the drone laws took place. The biggest changing factor in regulations is that the purpose of your drone flight is no longer a factor in how regulations affect you. Previously, your use of the drone either in commercial or pleasure had guided you to follow a certain set of rules. However, the 2021 rules introduced measures that meant no matter what the purpose of your flight, the rules, and authorisations you follow are set by the drone you are choosing to fly.

Registering to Fly a Drone in 2021

Although this process didn’t change, there was still a need to apply for a flyer ID and operator ID which involves taking a theory test. The biggest change here is that previously there was an age limit where you had to be 13 and older to fly a drone. The new regulations brought in meant that you could fly your drone at any age as long as you had a flyer ID. In order to take the theory test, anyone under 13 will need to have someone over 18 with them when they take the test.

As part of the drone registration in 2021, it was part of the regulations that your drone was labelled with your Operator ID number. This label must follow the following rules

  • visible from the outside, or within a compartment that can easily be accessed without using a tool
    • clear and in block capitals taller than 3mm
    • secure and safe from damage
    • on the main body of the aircraft

The Drone License Changes in 2021

As we have discussed earlier, drone law changes in 2021 meant that the UK needed to align itself with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to allow the free circulation of drones with Europe.

The new rules remove the requirements of PfCO (Permission for Commercial Operations) and whether your operation is commercial/non-commercial, focussing solely on the type of drone and where you intend to fly it. To emphasise the new focus away from commercial or leisure flying the Permission for Commercial Operations) has been replaced by an Operation Authorisation (OA) which still requires a CAA application and submission on an Operations Manual in order to demonstrate how your drone operations will be carried out safely and with due regard to legislation. 

There are now 3 categories of operations providing a framework related to the level of risk involved in the flight.

These categories are Open, Specific, and Certified. To read more about these categories then please read our current drone laws page.

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