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UK database of drone pilots would cost eye-watering £4m

UK database capturing information of drone pilots would cost an eye-watering £4m. The government database would collect the personal information of around 150.000 UK drone pilots. Apart from its very high initial price, the database would cost another £2.9m per year to maintain. The new database would be significantly more expensive than other previously used and comparable databases in the UK. The cost per drone pilot would come down to approximately £16.50 per pilot per year. In comparison, the FAA charges ‘only $5 USD once to register as a hobbyist drone pilot in the US.

UK database of drone pilots very expensive

The planned database would be needed to comply with new EU laws according to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Anybody flying a drone weighing more than 250 grams would have to register.

According to The Register, the CAA had decided to outsource the database to the Department for Transport (DfT), which also own the CAA.

Drone pilots and industry insiders are concerned that the database will end up being a money-maker for the government at the expense of commercial and recreational drone pilots.

DJI’s Brendan Schulman expressed his concerns that if the high cost of the database is passed down to the drone pilots it will “substantially deter compliance and cause the failure of not only registration, but Remote ID and other downstream initiatives”.

A government spokesperson referred to the following paragraph from a recent CAA consultation about the database, it reads:

“Under the ‘user pays’ principle, and as a statutory corporation, the CAA must recover the costs from those it regulates. In putting forward this proposal, the CAA is seeking to balance the interests of users to keep charges as low as possible, whilst ensuring that the charges cover the costs of running the scheme.”

The Register said that the DfT did not dispute the price and the maintenance costs. The CAA consultation calculated that If all of the 175,000 drone pilots would volunteer to register, the price per person would be £16.50 per year. In comparison, registration with the FAA in the US costs $5 USD.

A similar database used to register hunters in the UK only a few years ago was considerably less expensive, even when adjusted for inflation. As to why the drone pilot registration database has to be so much more expensive, one can only guess. Although The Register suggests that maybe government workers were led to believe by consultants that the entire market of drone pilots to levy the costs against would have been larger than it is in reality.

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Photo: Techadvisor



Avatar for Haye Kesteloo Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Main Writer at DroneDJ, where he covers all drone related news and writes product reviews. He also contributes to the other sites in the 9to5Mac group such as; 9to5Mac, 9to5Google, 9to5Toys and Electrek. Haye can be reached at or @hayekesteloo