GREY IMPORT RADIO EQUIPMENT
The BMFA office often receives emails and phone calls in relation to radio equipment purchased outside of the UK, particularly in the United States.
There are two main areas of concern in relation to this matter; the first is the legal position.
At a recent meeting of the United Kingdom Radio Control Council a representative of Ofcom (Office of Communication) made the following point, particularly in relation to equipment on the 2.4GHz band.
“Due to differences in the specification, 2.4GHz radios bought directly from the USA without appropriate CE markings may not be approved for use in the UK or the rest of Europe. Transmitted power is known to be higher for some sets sold for use in the USA”
The practical implications for model flyers are that you could potentially be prosecuted by Ofcom if you are found to be transmitting illegally, also if your illegal transmission is proven to be a causal factor in a serious accident then you could face a criminal prosecution by the CAA under the endangering provisions of the Air Navigation Order.
The second area of concern is the insurance aspect of the BMFA membership package; I regularly get asked whether using illegal equipment invalidates the cover provided. The membership documents provided to members clearly state that the insurance cover provided is in respect of “any recognised/authorised activity of the BMFA relating to Aeromodelling and ancillary activities” the Members Handbook refers to “normal and lawful pursuits of the Association and it’s registered members”. Knowingly using equipment that is not compliant and legal for use in the UK could at worst invalidate the insurance cover provided and at best could lead to a court appearance with some very awkward questions to answer.
From a club perspective this can be a tricky situation to address. Clubs should not knowingly allow members to operate unlawfully due to the associated risks of members being uninsured and the potential consequences to other members should there be an accident. However, a club has no duty to be a “police force” and their powers would not extend further than banning a member whom they knew (hard evidence) was flying using non UK compliant equipment.
The BMFA has been instrumental in gaining the permissions for model flyers to use both the 35MHz band and more recently the 2.4GHz band. We also provide advice to members on their legal responsibilities when using these bands.
The BMFA remains totally opposed to any use of non approved R/C equipment in the UK by any member and strongly recommends that only appropriately marked CE approved radio control equipment is purchased and used. It should be borne in mind that any breach of UK regulations is the remit of Ofcom to investigate and prosecute where appropriate.
Manny Williamson Development Officer