Drone regulation—United Kingdom—Q&A guide

The following TMT practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Drone regulation—United Kingdom—Q&A guide
  • 1. What basic rules govern the operation of remotely piloted aircraft and unmanned aircraft (drones) in your jurisdiction? Which regulatory bodies are charged with enforcing these rules?
  • 2. What are the penalties for non-compliance with the laws and regulations governing drones?
  • 3. Is there any distinction between public and private drones, as well as between leisure use and commercial use?
  • 4. Is there a weight-based classification system for drones resulting in the application of different rules?
  • 5. Is there any distinction between completely autonomous drones and remotely piloted drones?
  • 6. Do specific rules regulate the design and manufacture of drones in your jurisdiction?
  • 7. Must drone manufacturers obtain any licences or other authorisation to carry out their business? Are manufacturers subject to any other specific rules?
  • 8. Do general product liability rules (or other specific liability rules) apply to the manufacture of drones?
  • 9. Must drones be registered in a specific national registry? If so, who is entitled to register drones and what requirements and restrictions apply? Is the registry organised as an operator registry or an owner registry?
  • More...

Drone regulation—United Kingdom—Q&A guide

This Practice Note contains a jurisdiction-specific Q&A guide to drone regulation in United Kingdom published as part of the Lexology Getting the Deal Through series by Law Business Research (published: August 2020).

Authors: Stewarts—Peter Neenan

1. What basic rules govern the operation of remotely piloted aircraft and unmanned aircraft (drones) in your jurisdiction? Which regulatory bodies are charged with enforcing these rules?

The Air Navigation Order 2016 (SI 2016/765) (ANO) is the primary national regulation governing the operation of remotely piloted aircraft and drones in the UK. It has been amended by Air Navigation (Amendment) Orders 2017/1112, 2018/623, 2018/1160 and 2019/261. The UK is currently also subject to European Regulations including the Basic Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2018/1139) and the Standardised European Rules of Air (SERA) (Regulation (EU) 923/2012). From 31 December 2020, the UK will be subject to the European Union Unmanned Aircraft Systems Implementing Regulation 2019/947 (EU UAS IR 2019/947). For 2021 and beyond, a longer-term UK-EU relationship on aviation is to be determined as part of ongoing negotiations.

The ANO as amended includes specific rules governing drone operation in the UK. For drones with a mass greater than 20kg, the drone must comply with all rules within the ANO as if it is a manned aircraft (subject to an exemption from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)). Drones weighing 20kg or less are defined

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