The CAA introduced new regulations and rules in March which affords greatar protection for airfields. The effect of these new rules is the the No Fly Zones (NFZ) around airfields have been increased. In short the general area is either a 2km or 2.5km radius circle around the centre point of the airfield plus an extended rectangle of 5km along the centre line of the runway.
Over the past two weeks I have been asked to film at three locations within FRZ's. The most recent request was this morning for a site close the East Midlands Airport and within their FRZ. The process required to secure permission is not the same for all airports, they all have their own interpreation of the rules. A call to ATC this morning resulted in a form being sent out which was straight forward which I returned within the hour. I included a plan of the site I would be flying and in this case it is a monthly task. Typical of EMA approval was given quickly, almost by return. I have an "authorisation number" and am required to call them 30 minutes before any flight. To process this they had a copy of my CAA Licence and Insurance Cover Note. When you call it is an easy process, quote the number and you are good to go.
The second example is again for a monthly construction update and at small local airfield. In this case I am not able to submit the application on line and have been asked to provide a lot more information. The information requested included my CAA Licence and Insurance Cover note plus site plans, Site Assessment, Risk Assessment, Operating Safety Procedures and also a copy of our Operations Manual. Quite a different approach and to my mind over and above what is required. To my thinking the PfCO is the key document as it has been granted by the CAA and it shouldn't be necessary to provide everything else. However you are required to follow the requests of the authorising airfield so that is what I will do (except for the Ops Manual).
I understand that other operators are experiencing a wide range of requests. Generally the bigger the airfield the easier it seems to be to get the green light. It would be useful if the CAA could issue clear guidance on how this process is supposed to work.
So in conclusion what is the impact of these new rules? For commercial operators a bit more admin but nothing too onerous and we will all do it to ensure safe and legally complaint flights. However for the 000's of hobby drone flyers I hazard a guess that very few will even be aware of these new rules. How are they supposed to know? Therefore they will contune to fly in FRZ's without seeking permission and be non the wiser. I hardly think the police have the time or resources to investigate alledged breaches. So the commercial operators who understand the importance of safety and associated risks have more hoops to jump through and everyone one carries on as usual. The Government's knee jerk reaction to introducing new rules will in my opinion make a negligible difference in the safety of aviation.