BMFA message to all members

Further to the announcement earlier this week, we will be working with the CAA to clarify the detail of how we can best assist our members to comply with the Registration and Competency requirements which were introduced in the 2018 changes to the Air Navigation Order and become law on the 30th November 2019 for those operating unmanned aircraft.

The changes to the law are in part to address established issues arising from unlawful operation, but also to help facilitate the wider integration of unmanned aircraft into the airspace in the future.  The Queen’s Speech of 14th October announced the ‘Air Traffic Management and Unmanned Aircraft Bill’ which introduces mechanisms for modernising airspace and Air Traffic Services and provides the Police with new powers to deal with the unlawful use of unmanned aircraft.

It is acknowledged that Operator Registration is unlikely to address unlawful operation and that those using an unmanned aircraft for malicious purposes are unlikely to register.  However, it does provide the Police with a mechanism for enforcement if they challenge anyone they suspect of operating an unmanned aircraft illegally.  If the operator is not registered or able to confirm competency, then the Police have an immediate and clear reason for issuing a fixed penalty notice or prosecution.  Details of the punitive measures have yet to be published.

Similarly, it is acknowledged that Competency requirements will not address the issue of those using unmanned aircraft with malicious intent.  However, there is a hope that it may help reduce the significant number of unlawful operations conducted unwittingly.  The BMFA does not disagree that awareness of applicable regulations is an essential requirement for safe operation and during our campaign it has become evident to all parties (including the CAA) that there are, perhaps, a few too many model flyers who do not fully understand the existing regulations.

The measures announced earlier this week are interim ones to deal with the immediate issue of the changes to UK law which become applicable on the 30th November.  We will be working with the CAA towards the implementation of the EU regulations in June 2020, so actively encouraging members to break the law by not complying (as some have suggested) would be counterproductive and detrimental to our ongoing negotiations.

What does this mean for BMFA members?

In simple terms, if you operate an unmanned aircraft weighing more than 250g outdoors after the 30th November then it will become a legal requirement to be registered as an Operator with the CAA and be able to provide evidence that you are competent (essentially to confirm that you are aware of the applicable laws).  Those who only operate control line aircraft will be exempted from the requirements. 

The CAA have agreed to recognise our members’ Achievements as an alternative to their online test and allow us to administer registration of Operators as part of our membership process.  A few key points to note are that:

  1. The fee for Operator registration will be £9/year.  Where members choose to register through the BMFA, we will collect the fee and pass it on to the CAA.  The BMFA does not profit from this in any way.  The CAA has to make a charge to users in order to cover the cost of the scheme which is not subsidised by the Government (unlike in some other countries).
  2. Members will be exempted from registering as Operators on the 30th November and can register instead as part of the BMFA’s membership renewal process (ideally by the end of January 2020).
  3. Registering as an Operator through the BMFA will be a specific ‘opt-in’ for members and the CAA will only receive information for those members who have given consent by ‘opting in’ and paid the CAA fee.  
  4. The BMFA has never and will never share members’ data with any third parties without consent.
  5. We are still clarifying arrangements for junior members in terms of Operator registration, but there are no age restrictions for ‘Remote Pilots’.
  6. Members who ‘opt in’ will receive an email from the CAA with their ‘Flyer ID’ once their data is uploaded. (Should a member be asked to provide proof of registration before receiving their Flyer ID the BMFA office will provide evidence of compliance.)
  7. There will be no requirement to place any registration numbers on the exterior of model aircraft, but they must be carried in an easily accessible location (within a battery hatch for example).
  8. For members with an existing Achievement, all that they will need to do to remain lawful will be to simply ‘opt in’ when they renew their membership and pay the additional CAA fee.
  9. We will shortly introduce a Member’s Competency Certificate (a simple knowledge test which will be available online/hardcopy and/or via our clubs and examiners) as an alternative to the CAA system for those without an existing Achievement.  Members without an existing Achievement will either have to complete a Member’s Competency Certificate or the CAA’s own test before we can register them as an Operator.
  10. Registration and/or evidence of competency will not be conditions of BMFA membership but failure to be able to produce evidence of both if challenged by the Police could result in a fixed penalty notice or prosecution. 
  11. Compliance with the Registration/Competency requirements is largely a matter for individual members and as such we would not expect Clubs to automatically assume responsibility for policing it, though of course some may choose to do so (perhaps to assist those members wishing to comply who do not have access to the internet or in order to comply with local operating requirements such as FRZ permissions for example).
  12. We are still working with insurers to resolve any potential insurance implications and hope to be able to clarify the situation by the end of this week.
  13. Members will continue to benefit from the existing permissions/exemptions already granted to the CAA recognised UK Associations (such as the permission to operate above 400ft with aircraft of less than 7Kg, operate control line aircraft within an FRZ and operate FPV aircraft with a competent observer).

We appreciate that there are still likely to be many questions arising from this, but there remains a lot of detail to resolve with the CAA (and our insurers) before we can issue definitive guidance.  However, please be assured that we will provide further information and guidance as soon as it becomes available.

Kind Regards

David Phipps, CEO.

A quick reminder that KADMAC & BMFA membership renewal is now open for the 2019 season.

There are several options for renewing.

1st Members can pay both at the next Club meeting which takes place on the 8th January at Park Side Social Club Howarth from 20.00

2nd Online from the membership renewal form Click Here you can also renew your BMFA from this form.

3rd Whilst we can renew your BMFA membership, you may wish to renew your BMFA yourself, if so please use this link to GoMembership Click Here to login to the fully secure website where you will also be able to check and update your information. You can also list the clubs you are in to help each of these clubs with their admin, please add KADMAC as your Primary Club as this gives us more votes.

You will require your BMFA membership/insurance to be in place before taking part in any model flying activities after 31st December 2018. Please don’t chance flying any model without insurance, this includes chuck gliders. A chuck glider was responsible for the biggest insurance claim that the BMFA has had to deal with, this was a 6 figure sum.

Your KADMAC membership goes towards paying for the club meetings, maintenance of Harden Moor and subsidising the indoor fly activities for our member. The committee hope to in the near future run the indoor flying  session completely free of charge to all members, an announcement will be made on this at the March or April meeting.

 

BMFA Membership Portal

If you haven’t logged on to the new BMFA membership portal on the GoMembership platform yet why not check out our Individual Member user guide? It can be downloaded from the link below. Then go to https://bmfa.azolve.com and request a password.

Existing and recently lapsed members do not need to register again, enter your email address and click Forgot Password. If the password rest email doesn’t arrive send us an email to membership@bmfa.org and we can ensure the email address on your records are current.

https://bmfa.org/Downloads/All-Downloads?Command=Core_Download&EntryId=2771

UPDATE ON EASA REGULATIONS FOR UNMANNED AIRCRAFT

The latest drafts of the EASA regulations for unmanned aircraft were published recently by the European Commission and contain a significant and positive development for model flyers.  DG MOVE (the European Transport Commission) submitted a proposal to remove model flying conducted within Associations/Clubs from the EASA regulations and this seems to have gained acceptance.

The latest draft Implementing Act introduces this principle:

(25) Since model aircraft are considered as UAS and given the good safety level demonstrated by model aircraft operations in clubs and associations, it is not necessary to adopt particular provisions for recreational flight activities conducted within the framework of model aircraft clubs and associations.

This is further clarified by Article 16

UAS operations in the framework of model aircraft clubs and associations

1. The competent authority may issue a model aircraft club or association with an operational authorisation in accordance with relevant national rules.

2. The operational authorisation shall specify the conditions under which the model aircraft club or association may continue their activities, and shall be limited to the territory of the Member State in which it is issued.

There remained some confusion regarding the extent to which model flying would remain within the scope of the regulations, compounded by the retention of a reference to model flying within UAS.SPEC.010 (General provisions).  However, we have just had confirmation from EASA that this reference to model flying was left in the regulations in error and will be removed.

On this basis, the current draft regulations essentially remove model flying conducted within Associations/Clubs from the scope of the EASA regulations.  EASA have also confirmed our interpretation that a Member State’s Competent Authority (in our case the CAA) can define a complete national regulatory framework for model flying (which may or may not define requirements for age limits, operator registration and competency requirements etc) and that model associations may operate to the resulting national authorisation.  This is exactly what we have today!

However, this still leaves model flying conducted by those operating outside of an Association/Club within the scope of the EASA ‘Open Category’ which imposes height restrictions, age restrictions and also registration and competency requirements to almost all model aircraft up to 25Kg (the maximum limit within the ‘Open Category’).

The facility for a Member State to define areas/zones where model aircraft can operate with exemptions from ‘Open Category’ requirements has also been retained in Article 15 and could potentially help some countries where the requirement to join an Association/Club will be an unwelcome/unworkable imposition.

Article 15 Operational conditions for geographical zones

2.On the basis of a risk assessment carried out by the competent authority, Member States may designate certain geographical zones in which UAS operations are exempt from one or more of the open category requirements.

The current draft of the regulations is open for feedback on the European Commission website until the 5th November.  It is possible to submit feedback directly if you register on the EC website.  Details can be found here: https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/initiatives/ares-2018-1460265_en

We believe that the changes introduced in the current draft regulations represent a positive development for model flying and on that basis we are not calling for a mass mobilisation of members to respond on this occasion.

NEW BMFA MEMBERSHIP SITE

The new BMFA membership site hosted by GO membership is now online for everyone to use.

Please could all members register on the site and update all their contact details including emergency contact and current email address.

Country members could you please affiliate yourselves with the KADMAC club as it makes membership so much easier to administrate.

Anybody having difficulty doing this will they please write their full details and hand to me at the next meeting and I can update for you.

Regards Charlie