Thank you for taking the time to read this update. It explains the changes that we have made in order to make Achievement Scheme tests consistent with the Article 16 Authorisation that came into effect from the 1st January this year. Hopefully it will also provide a useful reference when passing information on to others. As we hope you will all appreciate, updating the tests hasn’t been a trivial exercise, and has involved a fair amount of work in a relatively short timescale, and the challenge now is one of communicating all of this to members. As we are sure you will appreciate, the Scheme has a role to play in helping raise awareness of the Authorisation amongst members, and as examiners, you have an important part to play in achieving this.
In order to integrate and align the Scheme with the Authorisation, we have had to make major changes to the Registration Competency Certificate (RCC) (which we hope you will all remember is now an Achievement Scheme test in its own right) and also to the Mandatory Questions in the individual tests.
To make it easy to digest, the changes have been condensed into the various individual bullet point detailed below:-
- The committee has written a new (2021) RCC, which now consists of 40 questions, and these are exclusively based on our Article 16 Authorisation. This makes the test far more applicable to our members than say the CAA DMARES tests. The CAA DMARES test has also been increased to 40 questions. The CAA test is largely drone based, and hence it’s important that we get the message across to members that it’s not hugely relevant to the way most of them will operate. Crucially, it’s important that members don’t think of the CAA test is in any way ‘superior’ simply because it comes from the CAA. This couldn’t be further from the truth, as a quick run through of the DMARES test will prove. Basically, our advice to members is to take the RCC over the DMARES test, simply because it provides a far better appreciation, and hopefully understanding, of the Authorisation.
- The format of the RCC hasn’t changed, it remains an on-line, multiple choice test, administered by the BMFA. The pass mark is 75%, and the new (2021) RCC is valid for five years, (the old RCC was valid for 3 years). Once completed, members can download a copy of their certificate to their membership profile on the membership portal.
- There are now 20 totally new Mandatory Questions, which are all based on the questions in the new (2021) RCC, and hence relate directly to the Authorisation. The nature of these questions has also changed, the language is less ‘official’, and all of the questions are derivatives of those in the RCC, so the two sets are very much aligned. Hopefully these changes will make the questions less intimidating for those who have to answer them. The mandatory questions were introduced several years ago to raise member’s awareness of the legal aspects of our activities and also to demonstrate to the CAA that we are a responsible organisation. It’s fair to say that they achieved both of these objectives. What we are hoping to do now, is to again use the questions to raise awareness, but this time by exempting members from having to answer them, if they’ve completed the new RCC. Which brings us nicely to the next point.
- Probably the biggest change, and one which is intended to encourage members to take the new (2021) RCC, is that those who hold an RCC taken after 31st December 2020 i.e. they hold the new (2021) RCC, will be exempt from the Mandatory Questions when they take an achievement scheme test.
Please note that the onus is on the candidate to demonstrate that they hold the correctly dated RCC pass, i.e. they need to bring evidence to show you at the time of the test, if they do not bring proof they must be asked the mandatory questions. This takes the pressure off you as an examiner, it’s the candidate’s responsibility to bring proof.
Another important point to make here, is that the exemption only applies to the mandatory questions. You must still ask the minimum of 5 (for an ‘A’ or BPC) and 8 (for a ‘B’) general questions as part of the test. Also, there is nothing to stop you still asking a question relating to the Authorisation (i.e. from the mandatory list) as part of the general questions, if you feel it is relevant to the test, for example, asking about FPV and the use of a ‘competent observer’ to someone taking a multirotor test, or asking someone taking a slope test about how high they can fly above where they are standing.
- Members who have a valid RCC taken before 31/12/20, and also any member who has a valid CAA DMARES test, or any member exercising ‘Grandfather’ rights (see below) are obviously still eligible to take a scheme test, but as before, you must ask them 5 Mandatory Questions from the list of 20 as part of their test. The rationale is that anyone who has taken the old RCC test will be in the same position as someone presenting for a test with the CAA DMARES test, i.e. they won’t necessarily have answered any questions that are relevant to the Article 16 Authorisation, which is what we are seeking to encourage. It’s important to remember that being ‘lawful’, has been a requirement for any member wishing to take a test for several years now, so this isn’t something that’s ‘new’.
- The CAA has granted ‘Grandfather’ rights to members with an existing achievement gained before 31/12/2020. This allows them to demonstrate ‘competence’ and hence comply with this aspect of the law, without having to complete an RCC or CAA DMARES test. Members can do this simply by confirming to the BMFA (by ticking a box on the membership portal) that they have read and understood the Article 16 Authorisation. However, the committee view is that the best way to demonstrate understanding of the Authorisation is to take the RCC, and by way of setting a good example, members of the ASRC have done this. It’s important to appreciate that whilst ‘Grandfather’ rights might be a nice ‘perk’, it doesn’t actually remove the obligation for members to understand the Authorisation.
- In order to help raise awareness of these changes, the bulk of the above will also shortly appear in the January 2021 issue of BMFA News, which hopefully members will read(!). Also, in addition to sending all of you this information sheet, we will be hosting a ‘Zoom’ webinar on this subject on Thursday 28th January at 7.30pm. You can register for this webinar at the link below.
The webinar is open to any examiner, instructor or prospective candidates but priority will be given to examiners.
- The introduction of the Article 16 authorisation and the changes to the mandatory questions has meant a slight delay in publishing the 2021 achievement scheme documentation. However, they should all have been published to the achievement scheme website at https://achievements.bmfa.uk/ in advance of the webinar on 28th January.
- On another important topic, the committee have provided input to the Tech. Sec. for the 2021 update to the Member’s Handbook. This is essentially text that is an updated version of the ‘Display Code’ that was omitted in the 2017 revision, and has been ‘missing’ for some time. The new text is consistent with the Article 16 Authorisation, and should help members reference the material in preparation for tests. In addition, the committee has also provided suggested new text regarding range and installation checking, which is worth looking at.
We hope that the above will have given you a good appreciation of the changes. Our goal is to encourage the uptake of the RCC, and in doing so raise awareness of the Article 16 Authorisation, but without compromising the core ethos of the Achievement Scheme. The ethos has always been that the Scheme is a means to encourage improvement, and provide a measure of personal achievement against a recognised national standard.
If any of you have any questions related to the above, or indeed any other aspect of the Scheme, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.