Heads up UK FPV flyers

Interesting times. I have noticed a recent rise in searches arriving at sUAS News for UK CAA FPV prosecutions. They land with us I think because of the Mersyside Police stuff in 2010. Well obviously something is up so I had a search and a FOIA request made to the CAA popped up.

http://www.caa.co.uk/docs/1357/F0001367ReplyLetter.pdf

Dear XXXX
I am writing in respect of your recent application of 20 July 2012, for the release of  information held by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Your request:

“Regarding Hobbyist FPV/UAV fliers

1) How many hobbyist FPV/UAV fliers have been investigated for breach of CAA rules?

2) How many hobbyist FPV/UAV fliers have been prosecuted for breach of CAA rules?

How many were convicted and what was the range of, and average, penalty?

Regarding Commercial FPV fliers.

1) How many commercial FPV/UAV fliers have been investigated for breach of CAA  rules?

2) How many commercial FPV/UAV fliers have been prosecuted for breach of CAA rules? How many were convicted and what was the range of, and average, penalty?

You may limit the period to the last five years if you so wish”

Our response:

In assessing your request in line with the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), we are pleased to be able to provide the information below. Changes to legislation were introduced to the Air Navigation Order 2009 (ANO 2009)
regarding the requirement for operators of small unmanned aircraft to obtain CAA  permission when their aircraft are being used for aerial work, and also in some cases for surveillance or data acquisition purposes (now termed small unmanned surveillance aircraft).

Unmanned aircraft having a mass of less than 7 kg are also now covered by this legislation, which is intended to ensure public safety by applying appropriate operational constraints, dependdent on the flying operation being conducted and the potential risks to third parties.

Further information can be found in CAP 722 on the following link:

http://www.caa.co.uk/docs/33/CAP722.pdf.

We therefore, only hold information relating to the last 3 years.

The CAA can confirm that it has investigated 4 cases in the last 3 years and on each case  no evidence of a Breach of the ANO was found and the files were subsequently closed.

The CAA can also confirm that 1 of these cases was aerial work and the other 3 were  hobbyists

Seems like a measured response from the CAA, but I wonder who is asking and why. The UK is well served by an active, responsible group of enthusiasts at FPV UK http://www.fpvuk.org/ They have been in talks with the CAA that have led to some of the most sensible rules anywhere.

This FOIA request rather puts me in mind of the quite outrageous threats made to RC flyers at Old Warden, the home of the Shuttleworth Collection