Drones—the legal framework
Produced in partnership with Simon Phippard LLB AKC FRAeS of Bird & Bird
Drones—the legal framework

The following TMT practice note produced in partnership with Simon Phippard LLB AKC FRAeS of Bird & Bird provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Drones—the legal framework
  • Drones—the basics
  • Key regulators in the UK
  • Drone uses
  • The regulatory framework—International, European and UK
  • International aviation regulation
  • European aviation regulation
  • UK aviation regulation
  • Classification of drones under the Retained Implementing Regulation and the Retained Delegated Regulation
  • Definitions
  • More...

This Practice Note considers the key legal issues arising in relation to the use of unmanned aircraft or drones in a recreational and commercial context.

It covers:

  1. Drones—the basics

  2. The regulatory framework—International, European and UK

  3. Classification of drones under the Retained Implementing Regulation and the Retained Delegated Regulation

  4. Key provisions of the ANO and Retained Implementing Regulation

  5. The Drone Code

  6. Criminal liability

  7. Civil liability under the Civil Aviation Act

  8. Trespass

  9. Right to impound a chattel

  10. Nuisance

  11. Bylaws

  12. Negligence

  13. Harassment and stalking

  14. Privacy and data protection

  15. Insurance

  16. Cybersecurity

  17. Regulating the design and manufacture of UAS

Drones (or other unmanned aircraft) are generally divided into three broad categories. The largest unmanned aircraft, including those intended for passenger-carrying operations or long-range military applications are treated in the same way as manned aircraft. They are, therefore, subject to extensive regulation, including platform certification and registration, pilot licensing and operational procedures akin to conventional aviation operations. This category of drone is not covered in this Practice Note.

Unmanned aircraft operations that do not meet traditional certification requirements, but can be demonstrated to be safe, fall into the second category. Most aviation regulators have long had the power, and in some instances the duty, to approve this category of aviation operations through a permit to fly system or through powers to exempt the operator from certain requirements of aeronautical regulation. Frequently those permits

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