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Operator ID’s, Flyer ID’s, BMFA No. and CAA, oh my!

Let’s take a moment to try and bring some clarity to the recent confusion regarding Operator ID’s, Flyer ID’s and all things CAA.

Firstly I will say the following is my understanding of the situation having read various emails from the BMFA, Facebook posts, BMFA website etc. This has not been confirmed by our clubs committee however I’m sure they will correct me if I am wrong. Or please feel free to do so in the Comments section below.

Operator ID
Since 30th November 2019 all model aircraft must display an Operator ID. The Operator ID is a number that is distributed and controlled by the CAA and it is associated to the “pilot’, not the aircraft.

The CAA states “Anyone responsible for a drone or unmanned aircraft (including model aircraft) weighing between 250g and 20kg needs to register as an operator.” – source

You can obtain a CAA number via our club, the BMFA or directly from the CAA. There are also a number of other approved associations which you can obtain them from, all listed here. I would recommend doing everything through our club, club subs, BMFA insurance and CAA Operator ID.

Operator ID’s must be displayed in each model aircraft you fly.

The BMFA states “The Operator I.D. number must be clearly displayed on the aircraft or within a compartment that can be easily accessed without the use of a tool.” – source

Flyer ID’s
Flyer ID’s were introduced more recently and are there to prove you can fly safely. These are obtained by taking an online theory test via the CAA.

However if you are a BMFA A or B certificate holder then you do not need to obtain a flyer ID. This is because the BMFA have worked with the CAA to prove that their A and B certs demonstrate the ability for some to fly safely.

BMFA Numbers
This is simply your BMFA membership number which is assigned when you first join the BMFA. I’m pretty sure it stays with you for life even if you stop for a while. I still have my original BMFA number even though I gave up the hobby for over ten years.

All fairly simple, so far.

Article 16
Now there is also Article 16 which was introduced 31st December 2020. The BMFA states: “The UK adopted the EU regulations for model flying in 2019 and these will come into effect on December 31st, 2020.  This is the same day that we exit from the EU, but regulations in place at the point of departure will be transferred directly into UK law.

To read more on article 16 visit this BMFA site here. If you don’t want to read all the detail, I recommend viewing this nice quick start guide

With everything new there is often challenges and changes. Let’s list what we have found out so far:

CAA Operator ID – Considerations and things to note

  1. If you obtained your operator ID directly from the CAA you are currently unable to associate it to your BMFA membership details via their website. The BMFA are working on changing this.
  2. If you obtained it via the BMFA or our club then you should be able to see your ID when you log onto the BMFA Membership portal. At the time of writing this post my ID is not available, however my profile does show that I am CAA registered until 21/02/2022
  3. As of 2021 Operator ID’s are due to change in length, as in have more numbers and characters in them. I’m not sure why, if you know please add a comment blow.
  4. You shouldn’t presume that your operator ID is permanent. It may change each time you renew.
  5. Renewal notifications; as this is a fairly new system you may be receiving renewal notifications directly from the CAA, regarding your Operator ID expiring. The BMFA have stated we can ignore these in the case that you renewed via your club or via the BMFA. This is simply a case of the BMFA system not yet fully integrated with the CAA systems. 

I think that’s about it for now on this matter. However if anyone is aware of anything else related, or an error in my post then please respond in the comments section below.

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