Open category operations present no risk or low risk to third parties.
These operations are conducted in accordance with basic and pre-defined characteristics and are not subject to any further authorisation.
The controlling factors for the Open Category are:
- You must pass the online test and hold a Flyer-ID, and register as a UAS operator, and display your Operator ID on your UAS
- The maximum take-off mass (MTOM) of the unmanned aircraft must be less than 25kg;
- The unmanned aircraft must be operated within visual line of sight (VLOS);
- The unmanned aircraft must not be flown higher than 120 metres (400 feet);
- You must not fly within the Flight Restriction Zone of a protected aerodrome, or within any other airspace restriction without permission.
All of these factors must apply for an Open category operation. If not, then the operation must be the Specific category.
Here are the important and relevant open sub-categories:
A1 – Fly “Over” People
Drones in this category pose a very low risk of harm or injury to people due to their low weight (drone weighs less than 250g), their type of construction, or because they are a toy (‘inherently harmless’); Flights over open-air groups of people are not permitted.
A2 – Fly “Close to” People
Drones must be no heavier than 4kg. You can fly to a minimum safe horizontal distance of 30m from uninvolved people. You can fly down to 5m horizontally of uninvolved people when the drones ‘ low-speed mode’ is selected. The operator must have completed the A2 Certificate of Competency (A2CofC).
A3 – Fly “Far From” People
This category covers the more general types of operations. The drone will only be flown in areas that are clear of uninvolved persons. I t will not be flown in areas that are used for residential, commercial, industrial or recreational purposes (equivalent to ‘congested areas’).
The flying of any ‘drone’ or model aircraft in the UK is covered by Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Regulations.
There are a basic set of regulations for flying unmanned aircraft within the UK. Operating within these limits will ensure you remain in the ‘Open Category’, meaning that you don’t need an authorisation from the CAA to fly.
If you intend to operate outside any of these limits, you must first obtain an Operational Authorisation.