10.1    General Club Information

Clubs or groups of flyers should draw up carefully considered safety rules for specific sites.  It is recommended that the Codes in this Handbook are used as a basis for these rules but additions to cover local circumstances should always be considered too.  These ‘flying field’ rules, should cover the club or group’s normal operating procedures and safety measures.

Clubs should take care to keep their flying field rules separate from their Club Constitution.  This will enable them to regularly review their operating procedures to ensure that, if any additional safety measures are needed, they are recognised and implemented.

Where byelaws restrict model flying to specific areas and times, model flyers should encourage local authorities to erect notices indicating the restrictions.  On private sites with public access, suitable notices warning of model flying should be erected if possible and where appropriate.

The signs should say ‘Please Be Aware. Model Flying Takes Place Beyond This Point’.

On public sites, or sites where casual visits by the public are likely, then temporary notices as in (d) above may be helpful when flying.  Always try to use the same take-off areas.  Other regular users will then expect to see model aircraft operating from a particular place.

10.2    The Safety Marshal

On all sites with public access, and especially on sites where model flying activity and the public interact regularly, it is strongly recommended that a SAFETY MARSHAL be appointed at any flying sessions.  His duties should include warning both the public and flyers of flight patterns, take-off areas and safety procedures and advising spectators of the safest area from which to watch.

Note that the person appointed will usually be appointed on the day and it may not be the same person all day.  Many clubs operate the system successfully by having a rota system so that no one individual is expected to do too much.  It may even be that every member on the field is tasked with acting as a Safety Marshall as part of their flying field responsibilities.  The most important point is that all flyers are aware that care must be taken and that steps have to be taken to ensure public safety.

10.3    The Club Safety Officer

If it is considered to be appropriate, a Club should appoint a competent CLUB SAFETY OFFICER whose duties would be to ensure that both the BMFA and the Club Safety Codes are followed.

However, a Safety Officer acting alone has an almost impossible task and some form of infrastructure should be set up within the club to help the designated officer.

The most successful way to do this is to make the task of Assistant Safety Officer part of the duties of every Committee member.  These Assistants then report to the designated Safety Officer when required.  This will keep the Safety Group to a manageable size but will ensure that there is a recognised safety presence at most flying sessions.

If it is felt that this might not be enough, you can appoint other responsible club members as assistants too.  Examiners, Instructors or senior club members might all be candidates.

It is not recommended that you appoint ‘all club members’ as their own safety officers. Such an approach loses the focus of a smaller group and can become ineffective.

Clubs should educate and encourage their members, particularly new or junior members, to conform to Club safety requirements and should have no hesitation in disciplining persistent offenders.

10.4    Using Your Flying Site

(a)  All flyers must ensure that the site they intend to use is entirely suitable for the type and size of model they wish to fly before attempting to use it.  You are personally responsible for the flights you make and the consequences of flying at an inappropriate site could be serious.

(b)  All flyers must ensure that the site is left free of any foreign objects or debris. This is particularly important where the use of active airfields is concerned or when livestock is likely to have access to the site at any time.

(c) When flying any model aircraft, first choose an unobstructed site and always keep a safe distance from uninvolved persons, vessels, vehicles and structures in accordance with our Article 16 Authorisation. This includes railway lines as referred to in Section 10.5 below.

(d)  Only fly in suitable weather, with regard for any other conditions such as local bylaws and with due consideration for other people and property.  If light conditions or visibility are such that you might lose sight of your model then do not fly.

(e)  Take great care if you fly near any overhead cables. Telephone wires are dangerous and electricity cables can and have killed. Even the low level electricity lines on wooden posts carry lethal voltages. KEEP CLEAR.

(f)   Do not leave fuel, adhesives etc. where children or other spectators may get hold of them.

(g)  Flying alone should be avoided if at all possible. There are many cases on record where model flyers have been injured or incapacitated on the flying field and have only been saved from permanent injury or worse by the prompt actions of fellow flyers.  If you do fly alone, take a mobile ‘phone with you. There are risks of interference with a mobile but the safety factor of being able to summon help if you are injured is more important.

(h)  It is extremely unwise to let children wander on a flying site. If children are there make sure that they are under supervision and safe.

(i)   Dogs and model aircraft do not mix. If you take your dog to the flying field it should be on a lead and restrained at all times.

10.5  Operating in close proximity to railway lines

Network Rail have asked us to remind members that it is the pilot’s responsibility to ensure that their flight can be made safely and in compliance with the terms of Article 241   of the ANO:  A person must not recklessly or negligently cause or permit an aircraft to endanger any person or property.

Network rail stated that failure to comply with the requirement could lead to:

  • Endangering people working or travelling on the railway;
  • Disrupting urgent track inspections that are being carried out by authorised flights of Network Rail drones along the same track;
  • Disrupting a search for a missing or vulnerable person by the British Transport Police; or
  • Causing damage to railway property and equipment.

Network Rail are making increasing use of drone to help them survey their 20,000 miles of track and 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts.  They have their own Air Operations section and you can find out more here: https://www.networkrail.co.uk/running-the-railway/looking-after-the-railway/our-fleet-machines-and-vehicles/air-operations/

Network Rail have requested that by default, no model/unmanned aircraft is operated within 50m of their infrastructure to avoid endangering (their own drones operate closer to their infrastructure than this).

Network Rail have also requested that in the event of a model or drone landing on a railway line, the network controllers should be alerted via the emergency number 03457 114141 and permission should be obtained before recovery is attempted.  Accessing a railway line without such permission places you in danger and is also an act of trespass.

The Network Rail Air Operations Team are happy to deal with any queries and they can   be contacted at DroneEnquiries@networkrail.co.uk.

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