rchelicopterhub.com / rchelicopter.hu
29 April 2019

Drone registration from 30 November
Public consultation in progress

The British Model Flying Association calls all people in the hobby to reject the proposal of the Civil Aviation Authority planned a £16.50 registration fee per annum. But what is that, why now and some many other questions.

Drone registration from 30 November

BMFA has posted on Facebook the call-up asking people to reject the CAA proposal of annual registration fee. It is a human nature, but few people has started to blame BMFA for the issue, instead of understanding and analysing the existing situation. We try to summarise, what's happening now.

Brexit has no effect

As it is known EASA (European Union Aviation Safety Agency) regulate the European UAV industry everywhere in the EU countries and few others joined under the same treaties. Therefore as long as airlines and pilots in the United Kingdom want to continue their operations in the EU as well, CAA is forced to follow EASA regulations regardless to outcome of Brexit process. And this freedom is quite limited.

The EU regulation has been discussed from different points of view on our pages even multiple times as well as on the Hungarian edition. Implementation of the drone registration is required in all member states by EASA and EU by end of this year - including all EU countries and other joined countries - above 250 grams, with no exemptions and with age restriction to age of 18 years and above. The only freedom is in the way of implementation by member states.

But it is hard to understand the way and the intention of European Union, because that hobby is threatened by these complicated bureaucratic ways and extra costs, which hobby was even supported in the darkest times of the hardest dictatorships in East European countries without limitations, strict regulations. Like in Hungary, when the party called teenagers up to join modelling clubs and build models.

This hobby was the lobby of the aviation for decades and now it is turned upside down and presented as the biggest enemy and problem - without any serious incident or evidence proven. Interestingly it is legal to drive a car with no supervision in most European countries from the age of 17 (or even less), it is legal to ride a motorcycle from age of 14, but 18 year is required for flying a small drone or model aircraft. And no registration or exam is required for riding bicycle on public roads threatening other drivers and pedestrians by not knowing the rules.

Not to mention, a person with bad intention will not worry about the registration, because nothing will force him to register, apart from a fine. Even years of prison sentence don't prevent violent and knife crimes, what's the expectation from this registration process? Modellers following existing rules will register only. This is why this entire process is totally useless.

Registration fee and other figures

Of course all laws worth as much as they are being enforced. And this is exponentially true in the country of forgotten laws. No doubt, most of us break the law of practicing archery every Saturday, which is compulsory to all males above 16 regardless to their citizenship or any other circumstances. But in this case money is also involved, therefore the enforcement is going to be much stricter. Therefore the label of "stealth tax of RC modelling" is correct, because this is nothing else, just a further unnecessary tax on a suffering hobby.

Assuming that the CAA's intention is to get the costs of the development back by the annual fee, it can be declared the 16.50 is an initial fee and devastating increase is expected in the following years. The proposals calculate with 170 thousand registrations a year. It is way overestimated perhaps. The hobby is declining already. All forms of model flying is suffering and lose members year-by-year, and even the drone industry is affected now due to the more and more complicated administrations and regulations.

BMFA has 34 thousand members. The three other associations can have similar figures all together. Rest of the model operators are not registered by anyone even now, and if a same amount of people is supposed, the number of modellers in the United Kingdom is not higher than 140 thousand. This is a very optimistic estimation. By the new regulations this figure will drop under 100 thousand or even lower, therefore when CAA wants to keep the income, registration fee has to double to 33 pounds by next year. Still not that high comparing to other costs, but the outcome is devastating.

Because a person willing to begin the hobby had to consider of initial costs including the modell, accessories only so far. Uncertain people could try the model flying in buddy boxing and on many other ways before. The new regulation don't know these exceptions, consequently there's no way to try it without registration in the future.

Do you want to try it? Register first, pay the fees, then you can try it

- sounds good, doesn't it?

It is not clear what to do in case of international events and pilots. It is not declared, registration in one country is enough, so when a pilot is registered in one member state, no registration is required in other states. Pilots travelling from one event to another one have to face the registration fees in all member countries individually, in some of them every year. Ten countries with similar fees will cost 160 pounds. In parallel driving license can be issued in only one EU country to one person, no further registration is required in other countries, what more, it is not possible.

And why the BMFA acts now

BMFA is working hard in the background on protecting the remaining community. It is misunderstood that BMFA is referring to the entire registration process just now. Unfortunately, the fight against the requirement of registration is a lost battle to all European associations long time ago. The question is about the annual fee now, which consultation just opened at CAA on Friday, 26th April. And it closes on 7th of June, so it's time to have your say and express your opinion.

No doubt, this fee - or even higher - will be introduced with no change simply because there's nothing to lose to EU administration - on this front at least - only this hobby can lose, and it will, that's why this consultation is just formal. But we have nothing to lose either when we express our refuse to them. So just do it.