All types of flying in the UK including that of model aircraft is subject to regulations as created by the Civil Aviation Authority. Fortunately the BMFA and BARCS enjoy a good relationship with the CAA and UK regulations are much more model friendly than in some counties notably the USA.
The CAA will, come about July/August this year, re-issue CAP 658 – Model Aircraft.
Key changes are a legal definition of what is a model – a small aircraft flown specifically for Sport and Recreation, and what is a small
UAV- a small aircraft flown for some commercial purpose. Additionally this revised CAP make rulings, as applicable to gliders over 7kg in weight. These are identical to those which have applied for some time to powered aircraft (IC and electric). No changes whatever, simply a few clarifications, apply to models of less than 7kg in weight. All changes, indeed the whole CAP, are very sensible and the entire CAP is worth reading for the good advice it contains as well as the regulatory definitions.
In more detail any model over 7kg (now including pure gliders), require specific permission before being flown within controlled airspace or within an active airfield traffic zone. The inclusion of gliders is new but only in line with existing rules for powered models. No other limitations apply up to a weight of 20kg.
For gliders which weigh between 20 and 150 kg a formal “Exemption Certificate” is now required. Powered models, including electric powered soarer’s in this weight bracket have required such certificates under the existing CAP regulations but (very sensibly) pure gliders too are now included. The advice of the LMA should be sought in regard to such certification as they operate a CAA approved model inspection scheme on behalf of all UK aeromodelling associations. The issue of such a Certificate requires build inspection/s and flight test but the full requirements are detailed by the CAP and available from the LMA. The CAA in conjunction with the LMA will agree to “grandfather rights” as applicable to models in this weight bracket which already successfully flying. However any such model will loose the grandfather right to the waiving of the exemption certificate if it is either subject to non trivial structural damage or acquires a new owner.
Finally gliders over 150kg in weight are treated in much the same way as full size aircraft and the CAA should be contacted to advise requirements. Approval from EASA is also likely to be required