One page guide to the UK CAA Open Category for drones

by 15 Nov 2022

On 31st December 2020, new UK drone regulations came into force

Over the last few years, the UK CAA has been heavily involved in contributing to the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) EU Drone Regulation Package that was due to come into force in July 2020 but was pushed back to 31st December 2020 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The other issue is that the UK has now left the EU and is no longer a member of EASA. As a result, the UK CAA took the option of “retaining” the EU Regulation package in UK law. If you are flying drones in the UK you must refer to the UK legislation, not the EU legislation.

The spirit of the law

The new UK drone rules aim to take the “one size fits all” approach that was previously applied and break it down into different categories. The focus of this article is the Open Category, which is the lowest risk category and therefore is the least arduous in terms of pilot certification and paperwork. I have tried to summarise the Open Category in a single A4 page. That does mean that a few little details are missed, but most of it is there. You can download the rules on a page using the PDF link below for future reference. You are welcome to pass this to other people as long as the PDF remains in its original format with all logos and and links.

There is, however, a bit of an issue

As you will see when you start to read the new rules, there is an emphasis on new manufacturing standards that require drones to have different categories of CE mark (C0, C1, C2, C3 etc.). The CE mark that each drone has will allow it to be used in a particular cubcategory. For, example, C2 marked drones can be used in the A2 subcategory but are not allowed to be used in the A1 subcategory. So, what’s the issue? Well at the moment there isn’t a single CE marked drone available so we have to use the transitional arrangements with legacy drones. I have tried to put examples of current drones in the transitional section.

November 2022 update

As of November 2022 there is now one EU CE marked drone on the market, the DJI Mavic 3 Classic, which holds C1 status. The UK CAA and Department for transport have taken the option of extending the transition period (the yellow area on the Open Category on a Page) until 1st January 2026. This is to take into account the fact that there isn’t a UK CA mark system in place yet, as well as environmental and other concerns that were raised in a CAA consultation with the UK drone industry.

There are going to be a number of changes in the near future, including EU CE marked deons not being allowed to be used in the Open Category in the UK after 1st January 2023. We recommend signing up to CAA Skywise to receive updates from the CAA as they are released.

Open Category on a page

Please use the button below to download the PDF. The document is free and no sign up is required, but if you’d like to be kept up to date with regulation changes and other drone news, please do sign up for a Free or Pro membership¬†and then choose the notifications you’d like to receive under “My Account”.