UK Drone Registration, What Does It Mean For You?


Soon in the UK it shall be a mandatory requirement for hobbyists to register all drones weighing 250 grams or more, and pass a safety awareness test. The central premise of policing drones pivots around public safety, and privacy laws. The test is a reassurance a flyer knows the rules of flight and therefore is accountable for ensuring they fly within the set parameters stated. Such policies help law enforcement penalize irresponsible flyers who disregard public safety by flying close to flight paths and congested areas. The awareness test is a positive step for the drone industry who operate in the shadow of bad drone press from rogue flyers. Such press facilitates aversive responses from the general public to these technologically nifty devices that pose no threat when flown correctly. The rules of flying are pretty simple and easy to remember. By UK rules a drone must be flown within line of sight, 400 ft high, and 150 ft from property/people, 500 ft from crowds/built up areas, and not violate aviation airspace. To solidify safety measures geofencing technology can be utilized to prevent drones entering restricted airspace, and drone companies can preset their products to prevent users violating certain cut off points. Drone companies working constructively with drone policies are really productive in aiding public confidence in drone use.

A safety awareness test will likely be administrated online, and in terms of drones, rules should be easily passable. No cost at present has been stated though a low cost or none at all may help the drone community respond more favorably to the UK changes. Most drone companies incorporate sensible flying, and its parameters into product booklets that come with sold devices as a measure to raise awareness. An awareness test is a good way of making sure drone users have read the requirements of use, and the penalties for violation.

The mandatory rule of registering drones of 250 grams weight by industry standards will include virtually all drones minus the toy versions designed for a younger buyer. A change that will be problematic for the drone community. RC racing drones life expectancy can be 24hours due to the frequency of crashes around competitive tracks. A mandatory registering of each drone will make RC racing a lot more costly, and may stop potential flyers entering altogether. Drones outside this specialty are prone to breakage, and unrepairable damage resulting in replacement drones being brought. If the drone is repairable the weight comes a variable due to spare parts differences. The stated weight at registration of a device is not a constant which the mandatory rule assumes. Drone repair, and owning numerous devices among serious drone hobbyists are common making mandatory registration costly for most flyers.

The FAA registration policy in the USA for 250-gram drones was set at $5 dollars per a registration. No UK price has been stated, but using their pricing system an RC racer could pay out £35.00 weekly to pursue their sport. The low registration cost of the FAA seems reasonable if it's one drone that is being registered. However, the reality of drone flying far exceeds the one drone part of this low-cost system. The USA registry of drones was over ruled in Washington DC in May 2017 when John Taylor won a lawsuit against the FAA. A law passed in congress in 2012 prohibited FAA from exhibiting rules on any model aircraft making registering drones a violation.

The FAA concluded the registration of drones a success due to 820, 000 registries being made during its active period. The figure does not correspond with estimated sales figures of 2.5 million during 2016. In consideration of sale statistics, a substantial amount of US drones were not registered despite potential court penalties of $277,500. The discrepancies of drones sold, and amount registered highlights the problems of policy policing these devices. In tune with developing a working relationship between industry, and Aviation law drone companies are in favour of the registration process. A system that has no detrimental effects on sales which clearly show drones rapidly coming more popular. The positives of registration pivot around the flyer being more accountable and responsible with his drone. DJI a market leader in support of registry post deactivation in the USA are disabling drones that are not registered with a manufacturer. The system identifies ownership in the event of a drone compromising public safety. The requirement and function of registering a drone with its manufacturer makes official registration redundant.


The UK awareness test is sufficient in itself to ensure users know and understands the rules of flying. If other drone companies followed DJI example the registration process in the UK would not be necessary. The drones companies by utilizing disabling technology have more power of policing its drones than CAA, (Civil Aviation Authority). The statements of CAA wanting more sufficient geofencing by definition stops a drone entering aircraft space, and highly restricted areas such as prisons. A technology that is easily implementable, and one that will eradicate the rogue flyer that represents a minuet percentage of the drone community.

The 250-gram weight of the mandatory registration process is itself questionable. The weight itself has come a standard across the globe with USA, Russia, Canada, Europe, and now the UK using it as a marker. The weight was decided at a time limited Federation Aviation Summit held in Nov 2015. The lethality curve a measure for establishing the probability of death when hit by an object carrying a specific amount of kinetic energy was used in determining 250grams. The lethality curve is a product of cold war era maths that was formulated to predict fatality when hit by a moving object.
DJI researchers examined the rationale of using such a formulae in regards to drones and found flaws. The formulae dates back 48 years, and is an unreliable predictor due to advances in medic care reduces fatality probabilities. The federation also made an error in assuming a drone mimicked a racing car by picking up speed before impact. DJI stated drones were more cube like, and by design produced more drag. There is no data to establish the impact of a drone hitting someone nor has any fatalities were reported. The probability is most unlikely even though the 250-gram weight has been derived from the lethality curve. DJI advocates the registration of drones but states it would like more research done in regards to using this marker for the formulation of drone policies.

The countries using the 250-gram weight report they’re happy using it as a cut-off. A view that reflects a lazy acceptance of a standardized marker that may not be accurate. The end result of registering drones seems to justify the method. The cost of registering multi drones, and the impact of RC flyers are not considered, nor the variable weight factor of drone fixes. The drone policy shake up in this country inevitably will bring a lot more cost to the drone community. Registering a drone with a manufacturer is a free process with the end result being no different to registering with the CAA. Due to the drones awareness test being the instrumental method of educating flyers, and not registering with the CAA one cannot state registry produces more careful flyers. Registering with drones manufacturers seems a much more effective solution especially when companies can reinforce by disabling devices. If, registering is purely what its states linking owner to rogue flights for accountability than manufacturer registry is sufficient in itself. Minus the drone awareness tests the function of registering drones changes significantly and has a stronger case. In countries where no drone awareness test is implemented drone registration comes the second method of reinforcing drone rules with product awareness leaflets being the first.

UK changes to drones flying will shortly be part of owning a drone. In consideration of the points highlighted the cost of these changes will be revealing. The FAA during its drone registration activation period made just over 4million. The factor of generating money cannot be ignored and is a by product of such policies. If, money was not an influencing force than free registry with drone companies would be sufficient once the awareness test has been passed. However, for that to be an option all drone companies would have to follow DJI example. The changes to UK drone policies will most likely be in place before all drones companies tweet devices for disabling purposes.

Unfortunately, the minuet rogue flyers have fuelled drone concerns, and policy policing is an intervention measure designed to protect the public. The necessity of such policies, and how far they may go is a concerning one. In Canada, drone paranoia is ripe with speculative talk of enforcing liability insurance on drone owners. If successful the impact on the industry and the drone community will be devastating. Liability insurance for multiple drones and the cost of renewing new ones will put a lot of people off owning one. The cost side has the potential of socially excluding individuals with lower incomes from experiencing the thrill, and excitement of flying. In the UK an appropriate age for taking the awareness test is already under discussion. If the age is set at 14 and above many younger individuals who are really enjoying the sport of flying will no longer be able to do so. The implications of policy policing drones should be thoroughly considered for its impact on both buyer, and industry. So, far drone policies have not affected sales, but liability insurance will. Hopefully, the UK will be wiser in its formulation of new policies and don’t follow Canada’s example. Drone paranoia is ridiculous when incidents are considered. Most incidents entail a violation of restricted airspace, or areas. All such incidences can be rectified by more advanced geofencing. The drones companies that enabled us to see, and fly like a bird will be central movers in keeping this fantastic air sport a possibility. If you’re a regular flyer and have read this article do apply the rules of safe flying.