FPV Flying General Exemption Updated by UK CAA

Yesterday, the Civil Aviation Authority updated their general exemption to the First Person View (FPV) flying of drones. This is to bring the FPV flying exemption in line with the changes made to the Air Navigation Order which come into force on the 30th July 2018.

This follows (and is somewhat overshadowed by) the announcement of a new consultation on drones which is looking at extending powers to prevent their misuse.

FPV Flying

First Person View flying, or FPV flying is where a drone pilot uses a forward facing camera on a drone as if they were inside the aircraft. This is similar to the view of a pilot in a manned aircraft.

Typically FPV goggles are used for a more immersive experience. Hence, the use of FPV goggles is typical in most versions of drone racing. However, you can use a free-standing monitor or tablet to display your FPV.

A man using FPV googles to pilot a drone.
There is no way someone in FPV googles can maintain direct eye contact with a flying drone.

The General Exemption

ORS4 No.1273: Small Unmanned Aircraft – First Person View (FPV) Flying (to give the exemption its full and proper name) allows a drone pilot to use the first person view function to fly their drone,  belonging they have an appropriate spotter and several conditions are met.

There are five paragraphs of conditions in the exemption. So you will need to read it to make sure you are in compliance with the general exemption. But there are some of the key points:

  • Follow Article 94 & 95 of the Air Navigation Order.
  • The drone should not be over 3.5 kg including fuel or batteries.
  • The pilot has to designate the observer & ensure they are competent.
  • The pilot must brief the observer.
  • The observer must maintain direct eye contact with the drone and be able to identity collision risk.

You can read the general exemption here. This replaces ORS4 No. 1226 which will be revealed on the  30th July 2018 when the new one comes into effect.