What class are you in?

In part two of a series of articles examining the forthcoming drone regulations, we are now going to look at the different classes of aircraft that will shortly be coming onto the market (when the manufacturers finally catch up) and more specifically which category they can be used in. Remember these categories will only apply as of the first of July 2020 and do not directly affect those flying under a PfCO, OSC or who wish to operate recreationally in the A3 category with an older aircraft


On the 31st of July, the new categories and product standards come in, during a transition period of around two years recreational pilots will be able to operate legacy aircraft within the A3 category. But as and when DJI, Yuneec, Autel, and friends release the new and compliant aircraft below are the product standard categories, information regarding the aircraft that can operate within them and the boxes that they have to tick


(Maximum Take off Mass or MTOM is the maximum weight, including payload, that an unmanned aircraft is rated for)


Aircraft Classes


C0 – Class C0 aircraft can be flown in all subcategories A1-A3. These will in real terms be very small unmanned aircraft, essentially toys, that:


  • Are less than 250g maximum take-off mass (MTOM)

  • Have a maximum speed of 19m/s (approx. 42.5 mph)

  • Unable to be flown more than 120m (400ft) from the controlling device


Note that the Mavic Mini does not meet these criteria as it has an MTOM of more than 250G


C1 – Class C1 aircraft can again be flown in all subcategories and are aircraft that are either:


  • Less than 900g MTOM or are made and perform in a way that if they collide with your head, the transmitted force will be less than 80 Joules.

  • Have a maximum speed of 19m/s (about 42 1/2 mph)

  • Are designed to minimise injury to people

  • Meet statutory noise limits,

  • Meet height limits

  • Must also meet requirements for remote identification and geo-awareness systems.

C2 – Class C2 Aircraft can be flown in the A2 category if you possess and A2 CofC certification (A2 Category proof of competency, see the last article!) or alternatively in the A3 category that operates far away from people. These aircraft are:


  • Less than 4kg MTOM

  • Designed to minimise injury to people Equipped with a low-speed mode’ which limits speed to 3m/s or 6.7 mph (Not Tripod mode!)

  • Meet statutory noise limits,

  • Meet height limits

  • Must also meet requirements for remote identification and geo-awareness systems.

  • There are additional requirements id the aircraft is tethered (we are trying to get clarity on this )


Class C3 – Class C3 Aircraft can be flown in subcategory A3 (far from people)


  • Unmanned aircraft that possess intelligent flight modes like those found in typical DJI multirotor aircraft which:

  • Less than 25kg MTOM,

  • Meet height limits

  • Must also meet requirements for remote identification and geo-awareness systems.

  • There are additional requirements id the aircraft is tethered (we are trying to get clarity on this )

  • There is no noise limitation as this class of aircraft is intended to be operated away from congested areas and people.

Class C4-Class C4 aircraft are only intended to be flown in the A3 category and to not possess any of the automation that we see in the criteria for operation, it is clear that aircraft stamped with this mark would, therefore, be (in the main) traditional model aircraft.


Remember (recreational flyers) you don’t have to throw out your legacy aircraft. They can still be operated in the A3 category under pretty much the same conditions as you do now.


In the next article, we will look at the Specific category of operations, the aircraft that can operate within it and what you can and cannot do with a legacy PfCO!




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