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400 Feet (120m) height restriction for models over 7.5kg.


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The BMFA Article 16 Authorisation allows members to fly non multi-rotor model up to 7.5kg at any established modelling site or any other suitable site. Models above 7.5kg are however, generally restricted to a height of 120m (400 Feet).
There is provision within the authorisation for specific flying club sites to be granted permission for models up to 25kg to be flown from specific sites.

We have members of our club (myself included) with models which exceed 7.5kg who have been flying them safety for a number of years. I have requested that our club (Don Valley Model Flying Club) apply for a permit to operate models with a MTOM of up to 25kg?

 

Are any other clubs applying?

Should we ALL be applying?

What will the BMFA's approach to this be, baring in mind that their aim has always been to maintain the existing privileges of members?

This is a heads-up to @Andy Symons - BMFA etc. Your thoughts / advice would be greatly appreciated prior to our club's / mass club applications.

 

https://rcc.bmfa.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/20210517-The-SMAE-Ltd-UAS7068-Article-16-Authorisation-Issue-2.pdf

 

32639315_21-05-202111-12-19.jpg.601fd5b2ddd711d1ce608660a7a77b30.jpg

 

750023550_21-05-202111-16-58.jpg.7e06669f2ac393f7126812d7e1a3cefc.jpg


 

Edited by Gary Manuel
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48 minutes ago, Cassandra said:

 

The 400ft limit for heaver models (7+kg dry until the end of last year, 7.5+kg MTOM now) isn't new.

That's right, it came in to force in July 2018. The BMFA have been in discussions with the CAA etc since then and it is only with the granting of the Article 16 Authority v2 that the option of restoring the pre-July 2018 conditions has become available.

Edited by Gary Manuel
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It was in Section 1, Part 22 Para 166 of the Air Navigation Order 2009 (That ANO was superseded by the 2016 Order and other amendments. I have no knowledge of earlier legislation in this respect):

 

166 Small unmanned aircraft

(1) A person must not cause or permit any article or animal (whether or not attached to a parachute) to be dropped from a small unmanned aircraft so as to endanger persons or property.

The person in charge of a small unmanned aircraft may only fly the aircraft if reasonably satisfied that the flight can safely be made.

The person in charge of a small unmanned aircraft must maintain direct, unaided visual contact with the aircraft sufficient to monitor its flight path in relation to other aircraft, persons, vehicles, vessels and structures for the purpose of avoiding collisions.

The person in charge of a small unmanned aircraft which has a mass of more than 7kg excluding its fuel but including any articles or equipment installed in or attached to the aircraft at the commencement of its flight, must not fly the aircraft:

  1. (a)  in Class A, C, D or E airspace unless the permission of the appropriate air traffic control unit has been obtained;

  2. (b)  within an aerodrome traffic zone during the notified hours of watch of the air traffic control unit (if any) at that aerodrome unless the permission of any such air traffic control unit has been obtained; or

  3. (c)  at a height of more than 400 feet above the surface unless it is flying in airspace described in sub-paragraph (a) or (b) and in accordance with the requirements for that airspace.

As to your other questions Gary, no the Clubs I am in have no intention of applying at this time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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OK, I've had a look at what the BMFA handbook has to say on the matter, which is:

image.thumb.png.8e3576483381b637b20e92a25ff58c5e.png

 

I had taken the view that existing registered flying clubs were cleared for this as per the final part of Paragraph 2 above.

This is what our club rules have to say about flying models over 7kg. The CAA exemption certificate was only required at >20kg, so I surmised that I was free to fly >7kg and <20kg models accordingly.

Maybe I have opened a can of worms, but it needed to be opened due to the new legislation. v2 of Art 16 Auth now provides a resealable lid for the can.

 

image.thumb.png.93f3e64ec086fa62a1fdd144ab93e9b7.png

 

Edited by Gary Manuel
John, your post appeared as I was typing. Bells are starting to ring about that now.
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33 minutes ago, Gary Manuel said:

I had taken the view that existing registered flying clubs were cleared for this as per the final part of Paragraph 2 above.


Sorry, but I’m not sure how you came to that conclusion.  If you want to operate a model over 7.5kg at >400ft then you need the relevant additional permissions to do so as per the ANO (see above), and that has been a requirement for a long time, at least since 2009. The Article 16 authorisation hasn’t changed that, it’s just tweaked slightly what you can request and who you request it off.
 

Your club rules therefore need an update, and if you want to fly >7.5kg over 400ft the committee will need to decide whether you want to apply for a permanent permission or just apply occasionally for specific dates/events.

Edited by MattyB
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24 minutes ago, Gary Manuel said:

Thanks guys. Clear as mud but I'll leave it to settle for a while.

 

I agree that last sentence in the BMFA handbook is a little confusing and should probably be tweaked, but ultimately that doesn't matter - it's the law we have to comply with, not BMFA guidance (which is all the handbook is). That means getting the right permissions as per the relevant sections of the Article 16 authorisation if you want to fly powered models of >7.5kg at >400ft...

 

Article 16, process for permanent authorisation for 7.5-25kg at >400ft:

 

image.png.8d34b9aa508c78eb7f58dac252d3ced2.png

 

...and as per Cassandra's post above, we have needed to request permission for a long time before Article 16 came along. 

 

 

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The 400ft rule for over 7kg models has been in place at least since 2003, probably longer. 

 

Extract of ANO from the BMFA members' handbook 2003 :

 

 

171661025_ANOre7kg.thumb.jpg.c9b9dc0883e30a0741b8f3984e23f060.jpg

This 400ft restriction was, and possibly still is, routinely ignored, by 7+ kg fliers. IMO this is probably because they had/have no idea what altitude their model is flying at & most don't have any working altimeter telemetry. 

Edited by PatMc
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Extract from a recent email from LMA clarifying the current situation.

 

Flights over 400ft of model aircraft over 7.5kg
 
Due to a change in policy by the CAA, flights over 400ft of model aircraft over 7.5kg at defined flying sites will no longer be approved by the CAA. That means that the LMA and / or the BMFA must now issue a permit for flying model aircraft over 7.5kg over 400ft. BMFA can permit over 400ft flying with up to 25kg model aircraft and the LMA can permit over 400ft flying with up to 25kg model aircraft and over 25kg model aircraft.

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34 minutes ago, MattyB said:

 

I agree that last sentence in the BMFA handbook is a little confusing and should probably be tweaked, but ultimately that doesn't matter - it's the law we have to comply with, not BMFA guidance (which is all the handbook is). That means getting the right permissions as per the relevant sections of the Article 16 authorisation if you want to fly powered models of >7.5kg at >400ft...

 

Article 16, process for permanent authorisation for 7.5-25kg at >400ft:

 

image.png.8d34b9aa508c78eb7f58dac252d3ced2.png

 

...and as per Cassandra's post above, we have needed to request permission for a long time before Article 16 came along. 

 

 

I meant that the history of how we got to where we are now was unclear.

The regs are pretty clear now and the fact that the BMFA are now empowered with issuing permissions should make it easier to apply as long as the rationale and safety case is acceptable. I actually quoted the same clause as you in my original post.

According to the BMFA news, the Handbook will be updated very soon, so hopefully, the anomalies will go from that too. I might be in trouble with our committee for exposing that our club rules are out of date though ?.

 

 

32 minutes ago, PatMc said:

The 400ft rule for over 7kg models has been in place at least since 2003, probably longer. 

 

Extract of ANO from the BMFA members' handbook 2003 :

 

 

171661025_ANOre7kg.thumb.jpg.c9b9dc0883e30a0741b8f3984e23f060.jpg

This 400ft restriction was, and possibly still is, routinely ignored, by 7+ kg fliers. IMO this is probably because they had/have no idea what altitude their model is flying at & most don't have any working altimeter telemetry. 

 

I think you might be right. It was down to ignorance on my part but to be honest, I don't tend to fly very high anyway and haven't flown any large models for the last couple of years anyway. I had already put an altimeter onto my shopping list.

 

 

10 minutes ago, BackinBlack said:

Extract from a recent email from LMA clarifying the current situation.

 

Flights over 400ft of model aircraft over 7.5kg
 
Due to a change in policy by the CAA, flights over 400ft of model aircraft over 7.5kg at defined flying sites will no longer be approved by the CAA. That means that the LMA and / or the BMFA must now issue a permit for flying model aircraft over 7.5kg over 400ft. BMFA can permit over 400ft flying with up to 25kg model aircraft and the LMA can permit over 400ft flying with up to 25kg model aircraft and over 25kg model aircraft.

 

I've not seen the CAA version of the Art 16 Auth, but this is exactly what prompted me to start this thread and ask the question at my club. The screenshots in my first post are from the BMFA version. I would expect that the LMA will get more applications than the BMFA due to the "L" in "LMA".

 

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It being a wet Friday afternoon I've just had a wade through the various legislation on the legislation.gov.uk website & found the following Air Navigation Orders & their application to model aircraft:

 

1970 Act - prohibits model flying for all aircraft over 11lbs unless they fully comply with all sections the ANO (ie aircraft certification, pilot's licensing etc)

1980 Act - as above but the weight limit changed to 5kg.

1989 Act - as above but the weight limit changed to 7kg.

2000 Act introduces the 400ft limit for the first time for over 7kg models.

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Doubt you will be in trouble with your club committee, they may hold a different view to yours though Gary, the 400ft rule has been highlighted times many, been discussed as well in various conversations regarding large models, we also provide all updates and relevant publications, reams of stuff on club rules and the laws of the land, it's in there and not been kept secret.

Maybe I set this in motion with the question asked elsewhere, got my self flumoxed reading forms re our Open Weekend, my confusion was nothing to do with the 400ft rule though.

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8 minutes ago, Gary Manuel said:

So ... (I hate people who start sentences with "So"), is it a good idea for clubs to apply for permission to fly >7.5kg models above 400 feet when their site is nowhere near controlled airspace or other properties and has a good safety record?

Up to you & your Club Gary.

 

I don't know your situation but with my other hat on as a full size instructor I would expect the CAA/BMFA process to any request will take into account the impact it may have on me, my students and other airspace users who use the uncontrolled airspace.

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16 minutes ago, john stones 1 Moderator said:

Doubt you will be in trouble with your club committee, they may hold a different view to yours though Gary, the 400ft rule has been highlighted times many, been discussed as well in various conversations regarding large models, we also provide all updates and relevant publications, reams of stuff on club rules and the laws of the land, it's in there and not been kept secret.

Maybe I set this in motion with the question asked elsewhere, got my self flumoxed reading forms re our Open Weekend, my confusion was nothing to do with the 400ft rule though.

Yep. I've seen and read all the bumf and we've certainly talked about it. It must have just gone in one ear and out of the other about the 400feet limit and 7.5kg models. My error, but now we have a chance to either accept the limit or apply for permission to fly them at over 400 feet.

Edited by Gary Manuel
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2 minutes ago, John Lee said:

Up to you & your Club Gary.

 

I don't know your situation but with my other hat on as a full size instructor I would expect the CAA/BMFA process to any request will take into account the impact it may have on me, my students and other airspace users who use the uncontrolled airspace.

 

Exactly as it should be John. I wouldn't even be thinking about it if I thought that there was any risk to full sized aircraft.

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2 hours ago, Gary Manuel said:

So ... (I hate people who start sentences with "So"), is it a good idea for clubs to apply for permission to fly >7.5kg models above 400 feet when their site is nowhere near controlled airspace or other properties and has a good safety record?


IMO yes, because I’ve not seen many flights by models of >7.5kg that stay below the 400ft limit. That’s pretty low, especially if you have a model in the faster end of the scale where pilots tend to use the vertical more when turning. Telemetry has shown me most of my flights exceed 400ft (especially the thermal gliders), though I have nothing in that kind of weight range so it’s not such an issue. The big thermaller (3m+ F5J) I generally only fly with an observer though. 

Edited by MattyB
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I think it’s difficult to justify flying a larger model without one unless you can explain how you are ensuring you’re not exceeding 400’ AGL.  Few people in my experience have ever given me anything approaching an accurate estimate. 

 

While not preventing a transgression with a zoom climb, I have programmed a telemetry control which closes the throttle to idle before a model exceeds 400’ in a steady climb. This can be overridden should an exemption be active or some as yet to be imagined emergency occur. 

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Accuracy?  I don't think a few percent is likely to be quibbled over but in the event of an incident, a trace showing that the Typhoon with a 1/4 scale Cub shaped dent in its tailplane was at 350ish feet over a model field would give a strong indication that the model flyer wasn't totally to blame...

 

When the questions are being asked, being able to state that your model was being flown within the permitted height as measured by a piece of equipment designed for the job rather than "Old Bob" saying "that looks OK boy..." will help reinforce your position in asserting that you were satisfied that you were taking adequate precautions to fly safely.  Same with the digital scales you've checked the model with - an ounce or two due to inaccuracy might put you the wrong side of the law but the fact you'd taken steps to measure it might help in mitigation.  Bottom line is that compliance is the responsibility of the pilot but anything that helps support you can only be a good thing.

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