PERMISSION – UK Model Aircraft Associations – Operations in excess of 400ft above the surface

Following the recent changes to the Air Navigation Order (ANO) which introduced Flight Restriction Zones (FRZ) around protected Aerodromes (with effect from the 13th March), the CAA have now updated the PERMISSION for Association members to continue operating ‘conventional’ model aircraft (excluding multi-rotors) weighing less than 7Kg at heights exceeding 400ft.  The full text of this PERMISSION can be viewed HERE.

There are a couple of important features contained within the new PERMISSION, including provision for an aerodrome operator to issue permission for model flying above 400ft within an FRZ.  As written, the ANO specifically excludes aerodrome operators from issuing permission to operate above 400ft in an FRZ, restricting the authority for such permissions to Air Traffic Control (ATC) units.  However, as not all protected aerodromes have an ATC unit, for some aerodromes this left no mechanism to permit model flying above 400ft.  The updated PERMISSION now addresses this situation for the benefit of Association members.

For the benefit of slope soaring, the new PERMISSION also includes permission for gliders exceeding 7Kg (up to 14Kg) to operate at heights up to 400ft above the pilot/point of launch (rather than the surface as specified in the ANO and illustrated in CAP1763 – see HERE for more details). 

The CAA have also re-issued the FPV EXEMPTION allowing our members to operate ‘conventional’ model aircraft (excluding multi-rotors) weighing less than 3.5Kg at heights up to 1000ft using First Person View.  The full text of this Exemption can be viewed HERE.

Previously, the FPV EXEMPTION required ATC permission for FPV flights within Class D or E airspace but the new EXEMPTION only requires ATC permission for FPV flights within an FRZ.

The PERMISSION & EXEMPTION have immediate effect and are limited to members of the BMFA, SAA, LMA and FPVUK.  As before, please note that they apply only to ‘conventional’ model aircraft (including helicopters) and do not exempt multirotor drones or unmanned aircraft with autonomous flight capability from the 400ft height limit.

We would like to record our thanks to the CAA for their co-operation with these updates.

The Civil Aviation Authority, in exercise of its powers under article 94A of the Air Navigation Order 2016 (“the Order”), as amended, hereby permits any member of a United Kingdom Model Aircraft Association, as specifically described at paragraph 2, to operate a small unmanned aircraft at a height in excess of 400 feet above the surface, subject to the conditions specified in paragraph 3.

This permission shall only apply to a person acting as the remote pilot of a small unmanned aircraft while also being a member of one of the following UK Model Aircraft Associations:

a. The Society of Model Aeronautical Engineers trading as the British Model Flying Association (BMFA)

b. The Scottish Aeromodellers Association (SAA)

c. The Large Model Association Ltd trading as the Large Model Association (LMA)


This permission is granted subject to the following conditions:

a. with the exception of the circumstances described in paragraph 3f below, the mass of the small unmanned aircraft shall not exceed 7kg excluding its fuel but including any articles or equipment installed in or attached to the aircraft at the commencement of its flight;

b. the small unmanned aircraft shall not have any automatic or autonomous flight capability except for flight stabilisation purposes;

c. the small unmanned aircraft shall not be a rotorcraft with more than one lift generating rotor or propeller;

d. this permission does not absolve the remote pilot from the requirement to obtain permission for a flight, or any part of a flight, within the flight restriction zone of a protected aerodrome in accordance with article 94A(4) of the Order. However, if permission to fly within the flight restriction zone has been obtained from the aerodrome operator, under the conditions listed in article 94A(4)(c) of the Order, then the small unmanned aircraft may be flown at a height in excess of 400ft above the surface in accordance with the conditions listed in this document.

e. the small unmanned aircraft shall not be flown above a height that is beyond the direct, unaided visual line of sight of the remote pilot, as required by article 94(3) of the Order, unless flying in accordance with any separate exemption that has been issued by the CAA.

f. a glider with a mass that is greater than 7kg, but not exceeding 14kg, may be flown at a height in excess of 400ft above the surface of the earth beneath it, provided that the aircraft is not flown at a height greater than 400ft above the remote pilot at any time.

This permission has effect from 4 April 2019, at which point the previous permission, under Reference number 20180824UKModelAssociationsUAS7068PandE400ftOSC, dated 24 August 2018 is revoked.

This permission will remain valid until it is either varied, suspended or revoked.