A topic that we see bounced around the internet quite often, including on our adverts, is that the A2 CofC is useless when we reach 2023. We discussed this topic in episode 1 of our Blue Skies Dronecast - The podcast by UAVHub.
So why do people believe that the A2 CofC qualification becomes redundant? Well, it's due to the transitional provisions that were put in place when the UK adopted the new set of regulations on the 31st December 2020.
Under the new regulations, new 'certified' drones are to be introduced that 'slot' into the new subcategories of the open category. The issue, however, was that when we adopted the new regulations, no drones were certified and therefore some provisions had to be put in place to allow the manufacturers to 'catch up' with the new requirements.
The transitional provisions provided a means for 'legacy drones' (drones that aren't certified with a classification) to be flown with some privileges as if they were already certified, but this was limited to a 2 year fixed period.
The transitional provisions for these legacy drones were capped at 2 years from the date of implementation of the new regulations, so 2 years from 31st December 2020, which makes the cut off date the 31st December 2022.
From 2023, you cannot fly ANY legacy drones between 250g and 2kg in either the A1 or the A2 of the subcategory, even with an A2 CofC. The A2 CofC is primarily designed to allow you to fly C2 certified drones within the A2 subcategory of the Open Category (hence the name A2 CofC). Its long term function was not for legacy drones.
The problem we face at the moment (as of the publication of this article) is that no manufacturers have released any certified drones to the market, and therefore if you have just purchased a drone, you may feel like the regulators are 'stopping you' from flying your drone after 2023. This is not the case, you can still fly any drones up to 25kg in the A3 subcategory of the Open category which means you need to stay 150m away from built-up areas and a minimum of 50m away from uninvolved people.
In a few years time, the issue of legacy drones will not be so much of a problem for most people because all new drones on the market will be certified and you'll be able to fly them within the appropriate category. So, if you have a C2 drone (and it needs that C2 stamp on the aircraft!), then you'll need an A2 CofC.
So to summarise, is the A2 CofC useless after 2023? No! It just starts to take on the purpose it was designed for which is to allow you to fly C2 class drones in the A2 subcategory of the Open Category, enabling you to go down to 5m in a low-speed mode and 30m in normal speed. These C2 aircraft will have weights between 900g and 4kg so we should start to see some high-level aircraft with great capabilities!
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