Szabó, Péter - pgpetike
07 November 2019

Theory test and registration in the UK
DRES tested: experiences

The Drone Registration and Education System (DRES) launched on Wednesday. We have tested and collected all our experiences. The test itself is very simple - let's say primitive, and we are concerned this system will achieve that is aimed. But let's be optimistic.

Theory test and registration in the UK

The DRES system started with few hiccups, but it was running well Wednesday evening an Thursday morning. The registration for Operator ID is straightforward, containing simple questions like any GOV.UK page. It costs £9 and valid for a year only. When the operator ID is issued in e-mail and on the screen, it is up to the operator how it will be displayed on all models and drones over 250g. There are few requirements, like the letters have to be 3mm tall at least, and it has to be accessible without using any tools. The only questioned condition is the "it has to be visible on the ground", which is confusing, because BMFA informed all members earlier, the Operator ID can be in the battery compartment as well not to damage the look of a scale model. This has to be cleared, however in case of an RC helicopter (excluding the scale models) this should not be a problem. The labelling requirements are available here.

The competence test

The Flyer ID and the competence test is free of charge. The test contains 20 random questions, 16 have to be answered correctly to pass the test. Each question has 3-4 answers to be chosen the correct one. The test has no time limit. An average RC pilot can answer at least 16 by common sense and the traditional RC model rules, no training is required. I passed the test with one fault (which still does not clear how it could happen - but that was the compulsory mistake from me). The entire test took me 12 minutes.

Sadly the test itself is focusing on drones only not considering any other models, therefore few questions are related to aerial photography, which are obviously will not affect most of us in practice - but they can be figured out easily. Also I miss the exemptions in case of few questions (like altitude limitations), which are still in place by my best knowledge in order to association memberships. But in a big picture these exemptions are granted to association members who are not required to pass this test in case of having association competence tests passed, therefore it can make sense to not over complicate the answers.

Pilots under 13 are also required to pass this test, however parental supervision is accepted. My daughter, Antonia (Toncsi) 9yo passed the test flawlessly with one little help. The majority of the questions (if not all) were the same as mine. She could get through the test in 20-25 minutes in the morning just before going in the school.

Final process

The system displays the Operator ID and the Flyer ID after a successful test and the registration and also sends the data in e-mail to the registered e-mail address. More Flyer IDs can be ordered under one e-mail address, and these IDs are available online later as well. However I could not find the joined Flyer ID.

The system itself is simple and easy to use, however it is annoying, a Flyer ID is valid for 3 years only, whilst a driving license is valid for almost a life time. I doubt, the system will achieve anything in order to stopping people to act badly, because the majority of RC pilots respecting and following all obligations so far will pass the test and will register, but people with bad intention can ignore the entire process and I'm certain they will. This is just one more bureaucratic step and a stealth tax against the lawful modellers' community.

In the mean time

DJI have found the backdoor or as known in East Europe, the "little gate": The company just released the DJI Mavic Mini, which is 249g including the battery, providing 4km transmitter range and professional video quality.

Regulations are clear: Flyer ID and Operator ID are required for drones weighting 250g or more. Therefore people flying DJI Mavic Mini are not required to register or pass the theory test either.

And they can still fly 4km (2.5m) away even in FRZs endangering air traffic or violating privacy. The lawmakers scored an own goal, because now it is proven, these rules cannot achieve anything, and this company just released this drone bypassing the regulations (and not just in the UK) intentionally on a legal way.