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27th Mar

CAA – Small Unmanned Aircraft – COVID19 Pandemic – Emergency Services Response

Posted in Drone Tech, General Interest, Information, Iprosurv NewsTagged in , , ,

Official Record Series 4 Civil Aviation Authority Miscellaneous

United Kingdom No: 1361

Air Navigation Order 2016
Publication date:
27 March 2020
General Exemption E 5032

  1. The Civil Aviation Authority, in exercise of its powers under article 266 of the Air Navigation

Order 2016 (‘the Order’), exempts any member of the United Kingdom Emergency Services acting as the person in charge of a small unmanned aircraft1 in support of a United Kingdom Police Force, from the requirements at articles 94(3), 94A(2) and 95 of the Order (see Note 1), subject to the conditions in paragraphs 2 to 4 below.

  • This exemption is only applicable for use in the support of the Police response in enforcing the Government restrictions placed on the public as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and where the observance of the restrictions in articles 94A(2) and 95 of the Order would be likely to hinder this objective (see Note 2).
  • When employing this Exemption, the small unmanned aircraft must not be flown:
  • other than by a remote pilot flying in accordance with a valid operational authorisation (permission or exemption) issued to a United Kingdom Police, Fire or Ambulance Service, as amended by this exemption;
  • at a height exceeding 600 feet above the surface, or 100 feet above the highest obstacle within a horizontal distance of 50 metres of the small unmanned aircraft if this is higher, provided that:
  • the remote pilot must be able to fully monitor the associated airspace for conflicting aircraft for the purpose of avoiding collisions;
  • When operating at a height exceeding 400 feet above the surface, a competent observer must be used at all times;
  • at a distance from the remote pilot station which exceeds the maximum control range of the aircraft, as stated in the operating manual of the emergency service under whose authority the person in charge is operating the aircraft;
  • at a distance beyond the visual line of sight of the remote pilot unless using a competent observer in accordance with General Exemption E4857 (ORS4 No.1297). When operating for the purposes of this exemption:
  1. “Small unmanned aircraft” means any unmanned aircraft, other than a balloon or a kite, having a mass of not more than

20kg without its fuel but including any articles or equipment installed in or attached to the aircraft at the commencement of its flight (ANO 2016)

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UK Civil Aviation Authority                                                                                                     Official Record Series 4, No. 1361

  • the maximum height limitation listed in paragraph 4(a) of General Exemption E4857 may be replaced by the height limitations at paragraph 3(b) of this exemption, and;
  • the minimum distance limitations listed in paragraph 4(d) of General Exemption E4857 may be replaced by the minimum distance limitations at paragraph 3(e) of this exemption;
  • within the following distances of any person, vehicle, vessel or structure that is not under the control of the remote pilot:
  • 10 metres, if the small unmanned aircraft has a mass of less than 2kg whilst in flight, including take-off and landing.
  • 20 metres, if the small unmanned aircraft has a mass of 2kg or more whilst in flight, including take-off and landing.

Periods of flight directly over uninvolved people should be minimised and only conducted when absolutely necessary to achieve the aim of the flight.

  • Details on the execution of this exemption, and the individual procedures and training requirements, including the risk management process that will enable a reduction of separation distances, must be incorporated into the relevant operator’s operations manual.
  • Details of all occasions where this exemption has been employed must specifically be logged by the operator. These details must be provided to the Civil Aviation Authority on request, or whenever the operational authorisation detailed at paragraph 3(a) is renewed.
  • This exemption has effect from the date it is signed until varied, suspended or revoked.

S-L O’Sullivan

for the Civil Aviation Authority

27 March 2020

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UK Civil Aviation Authority                                                                                                     Official Record Series 4, No. 1361


  1. Article 94(3) requires the remote pilot of a small unmanned aircraft to ensure that direct unaided visual contact is maintained with the aircraft sufficient to monitor its flight path in relation to other aircraft, persons, vehicles, vessels and structures for the purpose of avoiding collisions.

Article 94A(2) requires permission from the CAA for a flight, or part of a flight, of a small unmanned aircraft at a height of 400ft above the surface.

Article 95 prevents the flight of a small unmanned surveillance aircraft under certain circumstances (minimum distances from congested areas, organised open-air assemblies and persons, vessels, vehicles or structures) except in accordance with a permission issued by the CAA.

  • The intended purpose of this exemption is to allow a more flexible, but controlled, use of a small unmanned aircraft during times of civil emergency, where the exemptions afforded under General Exemption E4506 (ORS4 No.1233) are not able to be utilised.
  • This exemption is activated by the CAA at the discretion of the Head of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Unit for the period of the COVID19 pandemic while Police enforcement of the Government restrictions is considered necessary. Unless immediate suspension or revocation is required for safety reasons, the CAA will consult with the National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC) and/or National Fire Chief’s Council (NFCC) prior to its cancellation in order to ensure a managed return to normal operations. Any decision by the CAA will be relayed to the NPCC and/or NFCC point of contact for distribution to individual regional and local services.

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The document can be found here