One thing we are seeing a lot online and in social media is the mass of posts and videos relating to drone and model aircraft
We deliver training also for the A2 CofC and GVC and post information on these through a variety of channels and know first-hand how it can lead to many questions if you’re not familiar with the recent changes.
One common question and often associated vague or incorrect answers that are posted with it relate around Do I need an A2 CofC to fly legally? or the same question in relations to the GVC.
In all honesty some of the confusion and incorrect answers that are littering the internet are down to the little information that someone provides.
You actually need to do very little to fly legally in the UK with a drone or model aircraft, where things change and can cause some confusion is when you factor in what you are flying and where you want to fly it
When would a A2 CofC (Certificate of Competency) benefit A Recreational Flyer?
The A2 CofC is to allow flights in the A1 Transitional, A2 and A2 transitional sub categories of the Open.
In short this will allow you to potentially fly much closer to uninvolved persons or in a congested area if your drone or model aircraft fits within the limitations (usually based on weight) for that sub category.
So it may be that if you flying a larger drone or model aircraft recreationally then the A2 CofC is of no use to you.
But in some cases, it can really open up some interesting opportunities.
Example 1 – DJI Mavic Mini
As the DJI Mavic Mini is under 250g you can fly in the A1 subcategory this allows you to to fly under a very basic set of limitations with only having to complete the DMARES (Flyer ID/Operator ID
Where you may want the A2 CofC if flying the Mavic Mini is if you were to use the likes of propeller guards or other accessories that would make it heavier than 250g as this would allow for the same limitations previously but only adding the restriction of not overflying uninvolved people.
Without the A2 CofC you would have to remain 50m horizontally away from uninvolved persons and not within 150m horizontally of a congested area.
Example 2 – DJI Mavic Air
The DJI Mavic Air and Mavic Air 2 have different weights so do bear in mind that this changes slightly depending on which one you have
With the A2 CofC and the Mavic Air (Original 430g ) will allow the following
With the A2 CofC and the Mavic Air 2 (570g) will allow for the following
Again if you don’t have a A2 CofC you can still fly under the A3 Sub category by completing the DMAREs (Flyer ID & Operator ID) but would be limited to the following again.
Example 3 – DJI Phantom 4
The DJI Phantom 4 is a great platform to fly and has a very impressive camera for stills and video’s on the pro version, if we look at its weight of (1380g) it’s the heaviest of the examples but still being under 2kg, holding an A2 CofC could still open up some great possibilities if you plan to fly closer to a congested area.
In the 500g-2kg range you don’t really benefit much as you still need to be a minimum of 50m horizontally away from uninvolved persons but it does allow for flights in a congested areas.
What about drones over 2kg
If you fly a drone or model aircraft over 2kg you will gain no benefit from the A2 CofC and if you wanted to improve or reduce the separation distances from what you can fly a 2-25kg craft in the A3 Sub category then you would need to look at the likes of obtaining a GVC (General VLOS Certificate)
When would a GVC (General VLOS Certificate) benefit a recreational Flyer?
This is a fairly easy one, in that if you are a recreational flyer you will realistically not benefit from a GVC and the process you need to complete to be granted an operational authorisation (OA) from the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority).
Sure, it may be that for a specific individual and use case that they may benefit from this route but for most, the process of having to go through training, theory assessment, writing a technical document and conducting a flight assessment just to be able to get the GVC. So that you can then apply to the CAA for authorisation.
You’d also then need to factor in having to pay an application fee of £257 and further renewal costs on an annual basis.
Its also worth noting that you do end up with specific compliance requirements of maintaining records and logs if you do go down this route.
While it sounds a lot, if you using a drone for a commercial purpose its worth while and needed in some cases if flying larger drones and you want to operate more efficiently, but for a recreational flyer just looking to go out and have a nice time, not so much.
If you are interested in more information on the GVC you can check it out via this link
Try not to be phased by the vast amount of information online in relation to the new UAS regulations, if you only fly recreationally nothing has really changed that except under the new regulations you could earn money whether that be carrying out a service for someone like a inspection or video or just by selling your photo’s.
Another change and one that is important if you fly say the DJI Mavic Mini 1, 2 or another craft under 250g that is fitted with a camera and not classed as a toy, is that you now need to complete an operator ID and have it suitable displayed on your craft
Further information on registration requirements can be found on https://register-drones.caa.co.uk/registration-requirements
The only time you may find it worthwhile to go above and beyond the minimum requirement of the A3 Sub category of reading your aircrafts manual and completing a flyer ID and operator ID if needed.
More information on this can be found on the register drones website https://register-drones.caa.co.uk/individual
As a final note its worth understanding that the A2 CofC is valid for 5 Years and that at £59(subject to change) it works out at approximately £12 per year which isn’t a bad deal if it allows you to have more fun or open up the potential to earn some money from it.
Keep any eye out for our up and coming blog on the aircraft classifications and what that will allow you to do.
If you require any additional information on any of the above, please get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to assist you.