Drone registration and pilot testing will be mandatory in the UK

Even though no solid evidence has been presented in regards to drones being involved, incidents at both Gatwick and Heathrow airports, which saw thousands of flights grounded and delayed for days, have inspired the United Kingdom's Civil Aviation Authority to enforce more regulations. The government agency is requiring all operators over the age of 18 to pass an online pilot's test and register their unmanned aerial vehicle by November 30th.

This deadline applies to remote pilots flying model aircraft weighing between 250 grams (.55 pounds) and 20 kilograms (about 44 pounds). Exemptions to these mandatory rules have been granted to the following organizations:

  • The UK Drone Association (Arpas UK)
  • British Model Flying Association
  • Scottish Aeromodellers' Association
  • Large Model Association
  • FPV UK

Besides registering the drone, owners must obtain their flyer ID which requires taking and passing a theory (pilot) test. Adults and children under 13 can still fly but they must pass the test, and kids must be registered to fly by a parent or guardian. The drone's main operator must be 18 or older and is responsible for ensuring every person flying their aircraft is both registered and has passed their theory test.

Registration is relatively inexpensive at £9 ($12). Similar to U.S. rules, drone owners will be given a unique ID that must be affixed to their drone in a way that's easily identifiable. Anyone caught flying a drone that is not registered could incur a fine of up to £1000 ($1290).

DJI has recently created the Mavic Mini, which weights under 250 grams, to circumvent registration requirements. While operators of these lightweight unmanned aerial vehicles many not need to register with the Federal Aviation Administration, Civil Aviation Authority, or other similar agencies (always check your local laws), remote pilots still need to abide by standard aviation rules or face the consequences if caught.