Drone Course

Operations Airspace Principles


• The purpose of this Chapter is to online the policies, constraints and regulations that are to be adhered to when conducting UAS operations within UK airspace.

• The legal constraints on flying operations, including UAS, within UK airspace are contained within the ANO and it must be noted that the use of Danger Areas (DAs) for the segregation of RPAS activities might be subject to specific regulations pertinent to the DA. Information on airspace regulation within DAs must therefore be sought from the relevant Danger Area authority. SARG Airspace Regulation will assist in identifying the appropriate authority of required.

• Whilst the segregation of UAS from other airspace users provides a safe operating environment, the process for establishing such airspace reduces the flexibility or operation sought by the user community. This Chapter does not cover reactions to unplanned/emergency situations, as these are already catered for by the use of Restricted Area (Temporary) (RA(T)) and Emergency Restriction of Flying (ERF) procedures.


The post below details the operating principles associated with UAS flights both in segregated and non-segregated airspace. Specific regulations for model aircraft are detailed in CAP 658, Model Aircraft: A Guide to Safe Flying.


• Regulation (EC) 216/2008 (the EASA Basic Regulation) specifically excludes remotely piloted aircraft of 150kg or less from its scope. Therefore, these aircraft remain under national legislation laid out in the ANO.

• These is no lower weight limit below which the ANO does not apply; however, the extent to which the regulations apply depends upon the mass of the aircraft.

Airspace Principles for UAS Operations in the UK

• UK aviation legislation is designed to enable the safe and efficient operation of manned aircraft in all classes of airspace. UAS operations must work within the same regulatory framework.

• UAS do not have an automatic right to airspace if safety provision cannot be made or if such operations would have an unreasonably negative impact on other airspace users. In order to integrate with other airspace users, UAS operators must ensure that their aircraft can demonstrate an equivalent level of compliance with the rules and procedures that apply to manned aircraft. As such, the routine flight of any UAS outside UK DAs or non-segregated airspace cannot be permitted to increase the risk to existing users.

• Until UAS can comply with the requirements of the ANO and the Rules of the Air Regulations, one-off or occasional UAS flights outside DAs may be accommodated through the establishment of Temporary Danger Areas (TDAs). TDAs must not be considered to be a convenient ‘catch all’ for short notice UAS activities that can simply be requested, and implemented, without due consideration for other airspace users. TDAs will mainly be used for longer term measures, where activities have been properly planned and prepared, and adequate time is available for full consideration by SARG Airspace Regulation along with full promulgation. TDAs are covered more fully below.

• Unless special provision is made with the Air Traffic Service Unit (ATSU) handling the UAS activity, the provision of an Air Traffic Service (ATS) to an unmanned aircraft must be transparent to the controller. In other words, the controller must not have to do anything different using radiotelephony or landlines than he would for other aircraft under this control, nor must he have to apply different rules or work to different criteria. The following points are of note:

⁃ UAS must be able to comply with instructions from the ATS provider and with equipment requirements applicable to the class of airspace within which they intend to operate. ATS instructions must also be complied with in a timescale comparable with that of a manned aircraft.

⁃ All UAS callsigns must include the word “UNMANNED”, on first contact with the ATS provider, to ensure that air traffic controllers are fully aware that they are dealing with a UAS flight.

⁃ If “special provisions” are made with the associated ATSU, it is essential that these do not reduce the situational awareness of other airspace users.

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