CAP1763 fundamentally changes the way drones can operate inside controlled airspace. The rules are both more restrictive and also potentially more permissive. This guide will help you understand the changes as they affect your Operations Manual.

Firstly, think about the documentation that you must be compliant with. By far the three most important ones are:

  • CAP722 (Guidance for unmanned air systems)
  • CAP382 (MORS) – Mandatory Occurrence Reporting. Underpins the FAIR and JUST culture of Aviation. Honest reporting promotes a progressive and learning industry.
  • CAP393 – Air Navigation Order – The handbook for how to get around the skies. It is extremely important to understand that CAP393 applies to basically everything that takes to the air apart from birds. CAP393 contains hundreds of articles of which only 4 can be directly attributed to your operations as an SUAS pilot.

You should know these – 94, 95, 240 and 241. YOU MUST be able to state confidently the tone and intent of each of these articles AS WRITTEN. If you can’t then here’s the link –

https://publicapps.caa.co.uk/modalapplication.aspx?catid=1&pagetype=65&appid= 11&mode=detail&id=7523

Now that you have read or understand the rules of CAP393 as written you need to now apply the changes introduced in CAP1763. Here is the link; but before you go think about (or Google) Gatwick around December 2018 and you will see why the CAA were compelled to make the changes.

http://publicapps.caa.co.uk/docs/33/CAP1763%20New%20UAS%20guidance%20Feb%202019.pdf

CAP1763 is most easily understood by relating it to the differences from CAP393 that you have just read through. This is best articulated by directing your attention to page 2 of the document titled ‘New Changes introduced by the 2019 Amendment.’

Remember I said that the new rules were potentially more permissive? Look at the paragraph titled ‘400ft height limitation’ – the CAA have allowed drones, by permission from ATC, to go above 400ft outside the normal permissions limit as long as you are operating within the flight restriction zone of an aerodrome. Yep. Counter intuitively you can now operate above your permissions limit in the most sensitive airspace that you are going to fly as long as ATC are happy to allow you to do so. This is potentially fantastic news for operators within London and other major cities where great opportunities for drone photography and data assimilation exist as long as the operations don’t pose a greater danger in terms of congested areas/danger areas etc.

Now the next significant change. Inner and outer zones are out. Flight restriction zones are in. This is what an inner and outer zone looked like at East Midlands Airport under CAP393:

 

This is what it looks like now under CAP1763:
Sorry citizens of Long Whatton but if you want to fly a drone then you need to call ATC. Number found here:

page3image1776

Where did this phone number come from? Using the CAP the way it is intended. It is an information article with guidance that is of use to YOU and has some great information if you as a commercial operator can find the time or inclination to read it. It isn’t enough though to read and understand it. You must articulate it. Your operations manual is a snapshot of your business practice as a whole. If your ops manual is out of date, then it implies that you aren’t staying abreast of the industry and refusal of permissions follows.

This article has explained how you should approach CAP1763. However, there is one final piece of the puzzle which you need to understand. Legislation changes. Then it changes again. The agile commercial operator will stay abreast – the others will have their permissions refused. You need to understand how the CAA can change rules and then revert back. Which CAP did I say earlier was the ‘handbook for how to get about the skies’? Which articles from it apply to you right now as you read this?

The answer is CAP393 articles 240 and 241 as at 11th March 2019.

If you were thinking articles 94 and 95 then you are both right and wrong. Articles 94 and 95 are CURRENTLY contained within both CAP393 a separate CAP which is 1763 except the writing is fundamentally different. CAP1763 is however the most up to date and current of the two and thus you must use that. What do you think will happen in X months when the CAA re-issue CAP393 with the amendments contained?

CAP1763 will no longer exist – just like CAP1687 from last year which you can no longer find online. When you send in your permissions renewal next year and you have ‘CAP 1763 articles 94 and 95’ – will they be up to date? Does this provide a professional snapshot of your business practices?

In conclusion – the industry is starting to mature. No longer is the CAA happy to allow ‘enthusiastic amateurs’ to operate in a low regulation market. The December 2018 Gatwick incident proved that there was a need for higher regulation and oversight of the country’s airspace. To be frank – it was a long time coming.

If you have any questions or comments, please contact the RUSTA team on 0800 774 7347.