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Interesting reply from email to Richard Moriarty, CAA

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Peter Christy02/08/2019 12:03:13
1831 forum posts

C8: I take your points completely, but I'm trying to suggest a way of staying legal for minimum effort and cost, while at the same time undermining the official approach.

For myself, I do most of my flying a long way from civilization. If I don't register, the chances of my being caught are vanishingly small. Also, I am quite prepared to take a break for a few months when the rules are introduced and see what happens.

Some I know will carry on flying and refuse to register come hell or high water. Others - probably those operating near or in major conurbations - will feel obliged to register.

But if we can come up with a way of staying legal, whilst raising a well known salute to Baroness Vere, I think it should be considered.

I think it would be very difficult for them to come up with legislation that would prioritise one company over another.

I don't know what it costs to set up a LLC, but I gather they are available "off the shelf". Running costs should be trivial. If even half of the BMFA membership alone joined, at £1 a head, it should be enough to fund it for a few years - hopefully until the CAA scheme collapses under its own financial ineptitude!

Perhaps we could even name the company "The Baroness Vere Retirement Fund"! wink

--

Pete

Edited By Peter Christy on 02/08/2019 12:04:12

GONZO02/08/2019 12:10:12
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1380 forum posts
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Here, here Pete. My thoughts on the matter exactly. I shall be doing the same as you, a wait and see game. Although, I am actively looking at sub 250gm and boats.

GONZO02/08/2019 12:38:15
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1380 forum posts
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OFF THE SHELF LLC

There you go for starters.

Peter Christy02/08/2019 12:50:32
1831 forum posts

Even cheaper than I thought! Need to investigate the legal requirements first and make sure the idea is water-tight. Perhaps time to see if the BMFA can advise....!

--

Pete

Colin Bernard02/08/2019 13:00:57
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503 forum posts
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Personally I do not object to registration and a small charge, other than it is totally unnecessary and will achieve nothing beneficial for the aviation community.

What I do object to is the misinformation, misleading and illogical way this has been approached.

We all know that the associations have registration systems that could be tapped into. This has been totally ignored other than for some woolly comment saying that this option is not suitable. Legislation could be introduced to enforce all pilots to belong to one of the associations - same cost level as the registration scheme with the benefit of insurance, support, training etc.

Costs quoted are ridiculous and rising. I am seeing reports that the development costs are now expected to hit £4m. According to CAP1775 the £16.50 was calculated by anticipating 251,000 registrations and renewals in the first 18 months.

Using this same figure only 61% of the £4m development and £2.8m running costs would be recovered. To recover the full amount the registration fee would need to be £27.

Of course we know, or expect, that the registration numbers will be nothing like that. If we assume an optimistic 50% actually register then the registration fee would need to be an annual £54, (but likely increased after year 1!).

If they do not get the income then it will be coming out of our taxes and we will still be paying for an overpriced, over spec'd application that achieves nothing.

As a final point, apparently Defra had a similar system running back in 2007 to register game shooters. Allowing for inflation this system was still less that £500,000 annually to run!

Feel free to shoot me down in flames here - I would really like to be proved wrong, then I would not feel so aggrieved!

 

Edited By Colin Bernard on 02/08/2019 13:03:17

Philip Lewis 302/08/2019 13:33:08
53 forum posts
Posted by Steve J on 02/08/2019 11:34:05:
Posted by Peter Christy on 02/08/2019 10:44:37:

OK, how about this for an alternative plan?

Assuming that the CAA don't require recreational operators over 18 to register themselves (which 94C seems to allow them to do), it would last until the first time that the directors found themselves in court.

Steve

In court for what? I own my company, and I will allow pilots to fly under a contract which states they must have passed the test, must be BMFA members and therefore insured, must comply with any ANO and any other law, can only fly at a recognised BMFA club flying site, (which is all they do anyway).

Think of a valid comparison, my sales reps are given a car, it is the companies car so I insure it, in their employment contract they are authorised to use it for business and social domestic and pleasure purposes.

If they break the law am I responsible? No I am not and I am not responsible for any third party claims either because the responsibility is with the driver to comply with the law.

Edited By Philip Lewis 3 on 02/08/2019 13:33:57

GONZO02/08/2019 13:48:05
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1380 forum posts
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The only issue I see with this approach is one of ownership. A problem which I believe can be overcome. We offer our planes to the 'company' for them to lease off of us for the coming year. In turn the 'company' then issues them back to us as custodians for the coming year. All this to be documented(minimal) and for nominal fees. Or, a scheme along these lines that side steps the ownership issue. Thoughts and comments?

Peter Christy02/08/2019 13:52:13
1831 forum posts

Gonzo: Yes, quite! I think this idea may have legs, but it will need to be vetted by a competent lawyer to make sure its water-tight!

Perhaps its an idea the BMFA could take up, in order to side-step any liability of doing it themselves?

--

Pete

Martin Harris02/08/2019 14:04:38
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9411 forum posts
256 photos

Your company has a duty of care to its employees and you have to have checks in place to enure vehicles are kept serviced correctly and are fit for purpose. This surely implies that you will have corporate responsibility for ensuring competent ongoing maintenance of the models you are "providing" and demonstrate sufficient checks that your operating standards are being complied with.

Are the pilots flying models registered to your hypothetical company employees, customers or co-directors? Their status may well impact on the level of supervision that you would be required to undertake.

While it sounds an attractive solution, I'm sure the powers that be would soon rewrite any legislation to close a loophole that enabled tens of thousands of modellers to pay a single operator's fee and were it to be allowed, the registration cost to the company would soon reflect the loss of income which is currently required to self fund the system.

Philip Lewis 302/08/2019 14:06:46
53 forum posts
Posted by Peter Christy on 02/08/2019 13:52:13:

Gonzo: Yes, quite! I think this idea may have legs, but it will need to be vetted by a competent lawyer to make sure its water-tight!

Perhaps its an idea the BMFA could take up, in order to side-step any liability of doing it themselves?

--

Pete

The BMFA could establish a subsidiary company specifically for this purpose rather than do it through the main BMFA company, that in the commercial world is very common indeed.

I might be wrong but but I don't recall seeing that the operator had to own the aircraft, again using cars as a comparison my employees do drive their own cars occasionally on company business and get reimbursed £0.45 per mile.

Martin Harris02/08/2019 14:09:52
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9411 forum posts
256 photos

Don't your employees then have to tax and insure their own vehicles?

Steve J02/08/2019 14:30:13
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1983 forum posts
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Posted by Philip Lewis 3 on 02/08/2019 13:33:08:

In court for what?

From Baroness Vere's evidence to the Commons enquiry:

"We have the UA Bill coming forward, which will mean that operators of UAs have certain roles and responsibilities under the law. As I said to them, if they then want to be responsible for all their members as remote pilots, they should think very carefully about that. It is the case that there will be either fixed penalty notices or things that are a lot more serious."

Steve

Philip Lewis 302/08/2019 14:36:32
53 forum posts
Posted by Martin Harris on 02/08/2019 14:09:52:

Don't your employees then have to tax and insure their own vehicles?

Of course they do, and they are also responsible for it's roadworthy condition, also the drivers are the ones responsible for that as well I just have to provide the ability to do so, example, tyre wears out, I don't know it's worn out the driver does and I provide an account at a tyre retailer to enable the driver to get it renewed, if caught driving with a bald tyre then it is the driver who is fined and prosecuted, the driver is responsible that the car is legal at all times not me.

Philip Lewis 302/08/2019 14:43:19
53 forum posts

From Baroness Vere's evidence to the Commons enquiry:

"We have the UA Bill coming forward, which will mean that operators of UAs have certain roles and responsibilities under the law. As I said to them, if they then want to be responsible for all their members as remote pilots, they should think very carefully about that. It is the case that there will be either fixed penalty notices or things that are a lot more serious."

Steve

I call that a scare tactic, provided that the role and responsibilities are complied with which they would be in what I said how and what for am i going to get fined or worse?

In any event I agree, taken this approach the "monetary take" would be so low they would have to do something about it.

I also think that the system is a bit like the poll tax, it's already broken because from what I hear most people just won't register anyway and you can't enforce 100,000 odd people to do so because it just isn't practical to enforce and neither are there resources to do so.

Peter Christy02/08/2019 15:24:14
1831 forum posts

I agree, and I think it will be very difficult to draft a regulation that gives Amazon, etc, free reign and yet penalises others from taking advantage of the same rules.

What is sauce for the goose is also sauce for the gander!

--

Pete

MattyB02/08/2019 16:44:40
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2103 forum posts
32 photos

As with most topics around registration we have been over this Ltd company business before - it was Phillip who proposed it then. Unless you have legal qualifications (I don't) I would humbly suggest that it isn't worth thinking about too much at this point - you can be sure the BMFA and CAA will be looking at it (and probably the DfT looking at how to prevent it sad), and we will find out their recommendation in due course.

If the BMFA and other national associations come forward and state that registration via clubs or new Ltd companies is the way forward it will be an interesting situation. Without a precedent case to rely on will committee members be prepared to sign up to that responsibility? Indeed will the BMFA leadership? It's undoubtedly a risk, one which is difficult to quantify and (if it goes wrong) could theoretically result in prison sentences and/or large fines for the registered operators. Personally I would not be prepared to take that risk; YMMV.

Martin Harris02/08/2019 17:53:45
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9411 forum posts
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I think we're in danger of confusing ourselves over a very hypothetical proposal. Indeed Philip, in an earlier thread linked to by Matty you posted "I think the responsibility of the operator can only extend to ensuring the drone is airworthy" but now it seems that your opinion is that the pilot would be solely responsible. In addition, you stated that "you would only allow (being the company director it is your company) people you know and trust", which seems far from the concept of accepting mass pilots for "your" registered models now advocated.

Peter Christy02/08/2019 19:27:46
1831 forum posts

The Air Navigation Order makes it very clear that it is the pilot's responsibility to ensure that the flight can be made safely. That would include checking the airworthiness of the vehicle. I don't see how this responsibility could be transferred to the operating company. If (God forbid) a BA 'plane crashes, the pilot - not BA's Board of Directors - is the one held responsible.

The aim of setting up a separate LLC is to avoid the situation of a club, or the BMFA, being somehow held responsible, though in view of the above, I don't see how they could be. However, I can understand club committees or the BMFA Council being reluctant to take the risk, however small. But a small LLC? Any financial penalty would be born by the company, not it's directors. And having few assets (maybe a laptop?) it probably would not be worth prosecuting. The only penalty the directors would be likely to face would be being banned from holding a directorship in future - not a problem for me, and I suspect, many others like me.

At the end of the day, if Amazon can get away with being the operator of hundreds of drones, I don't see why we can't follow suite!

--

Pete

Martin Harris02/08/2019 20:53:25
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9411 forum posts
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There's no argument that a pilot has legal responsibility for safe completion of a flight but does this necessarily absolve the aircraft operator of a duty of care?

Whilst it is true that directors of limited companies normally benefit from a limited liability status, there are circumstances where that protection can be removed and directors may become subject to personal claims against them - either following the insolvency of a company or arising from general breaches of their duties.

In recent years there has been a noticeable increase in prosecutions brought against directors and other senior managers by the enforcement agencies . There is also evidence to suggest that the rate at which individuals are being sentenced to prison for health and safety offences has increased since the sentencing guidelines were introduced in February 2016.

Health and safety sentencing rules have become stricter in the last couple of years. The total number of company directors prosecuted rose from 15 in 2015 to 46 in 2016.

A couple of exampes: in 2017, a waste disposal company director was investigated for several health and safety breaches. He was given a 3 month suspended sentence and a 12 month sentence for two separate incidents. Four managers of a furniture factory received suspended sentences and were disqualified from acting as company directors for 5 years in 2016. Inspections found they weren’t protecting staff from wood dust, glues, and high-risk machines.

Can you sayconfidently that as the legal operator of a model, should a pilot or other person authorised by you to operate it cause injury to themselves or others with it you have no responsibility to them or people affected by their actions?

Peter Christy02/08/2019 22:16:22
1831 forum posts

Those are good points, Martin, but I think they are solvable. In the cases you quote, it seems that the directors were playing fast and loose with their responsibilities. However, were the directors of our hypothetical company to insist that all applicants must hold a minimum of a BMFA "A" certificate - and provide evidence that they do - then I believe it could be argued that the director(s) had fulfilled their obligations. They had ensured the pilot was suitably qualified, and the flight itself is the pilot's responsibility.

Remember, the CAA themselves have stated that they consider a BMFA "A" certificate (or equivalent) a suitable qualification for a commercial drone pilot (yes, I know!). But who are we to argue with them?

As I have said, if Amazon, the BBC, ITN, etc can have their drone pilots operate under a single umbrella, I see no reason why we cannot pursue the same path.

I think this is a very useful discussion to have. There will be potential problems along the way, but it is better to air them here, and try and find solutions, rather than in court, later!

And frankly, I object to effectively subsidising a company rich enough to have its own private space programme!

--

Pete

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