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Legal Considerations

Legal Considerations when Flying Roprey in the UK

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), is the body that governs all things flying, that aren’t alive at least. In the eyes of the law, there are no categories when it comes to the type of model. It could be a quadcopter, a foam aeroplane or even an RC jet – as long as it’s under 20Kg it’s called a Small Unmanned Aircraft.

There are two articles you need to be aware of – Article 94 & 95. Please read both now.

Article 94 – Small Unmanned Aircraft

(1) A person must not cause or permit any article or animal (whether or not
attached to a parachute) to be dropped from a small unmanned aircraft so as to
endanger persons or property.

(2) The person in charge of a small unmanned aircraft may only fly the aircraft if
reasonably satisfied that the flight can safely be made.

(3) The person in charge of a small unmanned aircraft must maintain direct,
unaided visual contact with the aircraft sufficient to monitor its flight path in
relation to other aircraft, persons, vehicles, vessels and structures for the
purpose of avoiding collisions.

(4) The person in charge of a small unmanned aircraft which has a mass of more
than 7kg excluding its fuel but including any articles or equipment installed in or
attached to the aircraft at the commencement of its flight, must not fly the
aircraft:

(a) in Class A, C, D or E airspace unless the permission of the appropriate air
traffic control unit has been obtained;

(b) within an aerodrome traffic zone during the notified hours of watch of the
air traffic control unit (if any) at that aerodrome unless the permission of
any such air traffic control unit has been obtained;
or
(c) at a height of more than 400 feet above the surface unless it is flying in
airspace described in sub-paragraph (a) or (b) and in accordance with the
requirements for that airspace.

(5) The person in charge of a small unmanned aircraft must not fly the aircraft for
the purposes of commercial operations except in accordance with a permission granted by
the CAA.

So, it’s all common-sense stuff. You can ensure that you know the flight can be done safely by:

  • Charging the batteries to full before flying
  • Checking that all the controls work before you launch the Roprey
  • Confirming that the flying area is appropriate before launch
  • Pre-planning where you intend for the Roprey and the falcon to come down

The Roprey is <1kg in weight, and therefore you are exempt from number 4 (and therefore 4a, b and c). However, despite having no legal height limit, you must still be able to ensure that the flight can safely be made. For example, this means no flying into clouds where you lose line of sight – this would break 2 and 3.

Article 95 – Small Unmanned Surveillance Aircraft

(1) The person in charge of a small unmanned surveillance aircraft must not fly the
aircraft in any of the circumstances described in paragraph (2) except in
accordance with a permission issued by the CAA.

(2) The circumstances referred to in paragraph (1) are:

(a) over or within 150 metres of any congested area;

(b) over or within 150 metres of an organised open-air assembly of more than
1,000 persons;

(c) within 50 metres of any vessel, vehicle or structure which is not under the
control of the person in charge of the aircraft;
or
(d) subject to paragraphs (3) and (4), within 50 metres of any person.

(3) Subject to paragraph (4), during take-off or landing, a small unmanned
surveillance aircraft must not be flown within 30 metres of any person.

(4) Paragraphs (2)(d) and (3) do not apply to the person in charge of the small
unmanned surveillance aircraft or a person under the control of the person in
charge of the aircraft.

(5) In this article ‘a small unmanned surveillance aircraft’ means a small unmanned
aircraft which is equipped to undertake any form of surveillance or data
acquisition.

Unless you have added a camera to your Roprey, it is not a Small Unmanned Surveillance Aircraft. If you choose to add a camera (and it’s great fun!), please make sure you understand A95. It’s all about data protection and not inadvertently filming people going about their day.

Be sure to check the legislation in your own country, and understand that such legislation is always changing and evolving as RC technology becomes more prominent.

We recommend that those flying in the UK join the British Model Flying Assosiation (BMFA). This body acts like the BFC of the model plane world. Membership offers you public liability insurance for non-commercial flights carried out in accordance with the above legislation.