Regulations regarding Quadcopters and UAVs

As I start on building a quadcopter I have been looking into the law surrounding flying model aircraft and UAVs (in the UK). Too be honest it has left me confused! I found a couple of pages on the Civil Aviation Authority’s website about both. UAVs seem to be very much a grey area with no hard rules, aside that they shouldn’t be used in ‘congested’ areas or for aerial work without CAA approval.

What I am more in is the height ceiling that a model craft can go up too, I plan to fly my craft outside of built up areas to be safe. Again there seems to be only a mild reference on the CAA site about 400ft before you need approval.

Obviously I don’t want to get into trouble with law through ignorance, area there any basic rules that apply to flying such crafts?

In the UK there are rules if you plan to use your UAV/Drone/RC aircraft for commercial work, but for recreational use there are no official rules for flying small UAV’s, there are regulations for larger size ones, and some even require a airworthiness certificate before it can fly.

However here are the general guidelines for operating UAV’s (the smaller ones we use in this hobby)

General Guidelines

  • Only fly Small UAV (under 7Kg)
  • Do not fly above 400 feet (~122m)
  • Do not fly beyond visual line of sight
  • Maintain a “pilot in control”, which is to say that you must always be able to take manual control and fly the aircraft out of danger
  • Stay away from built-up areas

You can see some more details on UAV regulations/qualification requirements here. But essentially there are two operating cases depending on the risk factors. For Case 0, you dont need any qualifications to fly which are dictated by the general guidelines above.

Disclaimer Please note that the information that I provide may not be correct/up to date so its best to read the CAA rules and regulations yourself. :smile:

Thanks for the reply :smile:

Confirms largely what I had been reading. I do have a somewhat dumb question… 400 feet - from what? Sea or ground level? :confused:

The 400ft height will be from ground level. This is because the minimum altitude aircraft can fly is usually about 1000ft AGL so there is some margin of safety between RC aircraft and real aircraft!