All UK drone users who are responsible for operations involving drones that weigh 250g or more will have to be registered as of November this year. On the 26th of April, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) put forward its proposal that this compulsory service will cost its users £16.50, annually. Failure to comply with this fee could lead to operators being fined as much as £1,000.
A low-cost and easy-to-use registration scheme could be a real opportunity to increase safety and accountability across the drone sector in the UK, but the CAA proposed annual charge of £16.50 we feel is too high.
We feel a lower on-off fee of £10 is more in step with equivalent systems that are in place in other countries, such as Canada, US and France where registering your drone is free and valid for five years.
CAA Consultation ended on 7 June 2019 and the final decision on this proposal is due this month July 2019. Read the CAA Consultation here.
Further information on the Drone Registration Scheme will be communicated to the public from September 2019 through a dedicated campaign.
These activities will be carried out ahead of the registration opening date, 1 October 2019 with registration of drone operators becoming mandatory from 30 November 2019.
Below is the case the CAA have put forward to justify the fee. More serious than this in the proposals is the distinction between a pilot and operator meaning that anyone under the age of 18 cannot register an operator so cannot fly a drone without supervision of an registered operator over the age of 18.
Charge proposal for the UK Drone Registration Scheme
This consultation covers our charge proposal for the Government mandated UK Drone Registration Scheme, which is due to be launched from 1 October 2019 and is a legal requirement under the Air Navigation Order (ANO) from 30 November 2019.
The Government has provided a significant amount of taxpayer funding to cover the costs of developing the new drone registration scheme up until 1 October 2019.
From that date onwards, the costs of running the scheme will be borne by those who use it under the user pays principle. This is because as a statutory body, the CAA has to recover its costs from those it regulates.
This is the funding model used for its other aviation regulation functions, for example regulation of pilots, engineers, general aviation, airlines and airports.
Why We Are Consulting
We are proposing an annual charge of £16.50 for each operator.
This is to cover the cost of running the registration scheme, which includes:
IT hosting and security costs;
CAA personnel and helpdesk;
a national education and awareness campaign; and
costs of further upgrades to the initial drone registration service.
We have based our costs on an assumption of 170,000 registrations over the initial 18 month period.
More information about the proposed charge, what we will do if the volumes of users are significantly different from those assumed and further background is available in the full consultation document.
This has infuriated model flying clubs and their reaction we will cover in our next blog post.