UK drone industry faces ‘cliff-edge threat’ unless Government speeds up post-Brexit accreditation

07 December 2021


The future of the UK drone industry – one of Britain’s prime opportunities for growth – along with many other UK-based manufacturing exporters, faces severe ‘cliff-edge’ threat once the UK’s eligibility for the EU’s CE accreditation regime expires at the end of December 2022.

Robert Garbett, a leading industry advisor on drone technology and founder & Chief Executive of drone & counter-drone consultancy, Drone Major Group has today warned the UK Government of the need to speed up post-Brexit accreditation and establish a clear pathway to United Kingdom Certified Assessed (UKCA) accreditation ahead of the fast-impending deadline.  
If an alternative UKCA accreditation scheme is not in place in the next 12 months, UK UAS (Unmanned Air Systems) businesses – including drone manufacturers and operators – risk being unable to trade within the global marketplace in the absence of the necessary new international regulatory accreditation.
This pressing issue, if not addressed with greater speed, will have serious consequences for many UK manufacturers looking to sell their products internationally. The issue is set to be tabled for discussion in the UK Parliament later this month.
Robert Garbett commented: “We must not sleepwalk into this urgent issue. It is essential that the UK takes a clear, committed and consistent approach to the development of CA accreditation, something which would have a significant impact on the aviation and drone industries, and will also impact many others. The UK currently has no system in place for the certification of aviation materials and also drones, and with all CE Certification no longer valid, firms will have to return to EU certification providers to re-certify, at a great cost both financially, and to the detriment of UK PLC. We now face a potential cliff-edge threat which requires urgent attention.”  
This has huge implications for many vital UK industries that increasingly rely on drone technology, including energy, agriculture, construction and rail.
Prior to Brexit, the UK utilised the (European Conformity) CE mark which ensured full compliance of a product with all applicable European health, safety, performance and environmental requirements. Post-Brexit however, the UKCA (UK Conformity Assessed) mark is now required for goods and products being placed on the market in Great Britain and currently covers most goods which previously required the?CE marking, known as ‘new approach’ goods.
From the end of this month (December 2021), the UK will have just 12 months remaining of the ‘transitional period’ to introduce and develop the requisite accreditations to ensure global compliancy of UK products before the upcoming deadline for full compliance on 1 January 2023.  
Commenting on the timeline for the accreditation, Robert Garbett continued: “It is essential that a clear roadmap is established for the UK’s accreditation. The process of implementation in itself is already highly complex and, as it stands, it will be very difficult for a certification scheme to be established with United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) in time for the December 2022 deadline, unless the current pace is speeded up.  
The UK’s departure from CE certification post-Brexit has created an opportunity for the UK to develop an acceptable means of compliance in line with emerging international standards. It has the potential to allow the UK to look outwardly, facilitating a faster pace of innovation in a move away from the more prescriptive approach taken by the EU’s CE accreditation.
We must get this right to leverage one of the UK’s biggest opportunities for growth in a technology where, if we move fast, we could lead the world.

About Drone Major Group
Drone Major Group is the world’s first global drone consultancy dedicated to advising companies and organisations on what can be achieved through the use of autonomous and remotely controlled systems (drones) in their operations across all environments (surface, underwater, air and space), where to acquire the technology, and how to integrate it safely and effectively into their operations

About Robert Garbett
Robert Garbett is one of the world’s foremost experts in drone technology and founder & Chief Executive of Drone Major Group, the world’s leading global drone and counter-drone consultancy. He is an ex-army entrepreneur, who ended his military career in 2007 as the head of airworthiness for the Defence Logistics Organisation, responsible for airworthiness for all aircraft platforms across all services (Army, Navy and Air Force)

He subsequently founded Drone Major Group, which advises on the adoption and application of drone technology across every environment (surface, underwater, air and space), developing tailored strategies to help companies and organisations around the world to realise the economics and other benefits of what drones can achieve for them, and how to deliver it.  

Robert Garbett is also Chairman of the British Standards Institution (BSI) committee on drone and counter-drone standards (ACE20), as well as Head of the UK delegation of the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) Committee responsible for developing the global drone safety standards for the operation of unmanned air systems (UAS). He is the only authority to be advising on standards in Britain, Europe and worldwide and is a leading authority and advocate for the global drone industry and its potential to transform economies.

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