The term drone is quite often associated with the controversial unmanned aerial vehicles used by the military. Facts however show that the past few years has seen the development of resourceful and playful consumer drones which an individual or business house can own without being a member of the armed forces. In order to regulate the use of these drones and the sector in general, the Government has signed into law, certain rules. Below are some of the important things you need to know about the rules in accordance with part 101 of Civil Aviation regulations.
– You need to have a CAA approved and valid remote pilot licence as well as a letter of approval to operate the drone.
– Rules do not apply to toy aircraft or unarmed free balloons or other types of aircraft which can not be managed on a real time basis during flight.
– Drones cannot fly more than 400ft or 120m above the ground, nor within 10 km of an aerodrome.
– The letter of approval will be valid for 12 months. While you do not need to have these documents when buying a drone, the seller will have to make you aware of the requirements as stipulated in the SACAA regulations.
– Drones cannot be flown within 50m above or close to a person or crowd of people, structure or building without prior SACAA approval.You cant also fly drones adjacent to or above a nuclear power plant, a prison, a police station, a crime scene, a court of law or national key points.
– You cannot use a public road for the take off or landing of a drone.
– You can not use a drone in adverse weather conditions, where your view of the drone is obstructed since visual contact must be mainlined with the RPA by the operator, unless in approved beyond visual line of sight or night operations.
– Drones need to give way to all manned aircraft and should avoid passing over, under or in front of manned aircraft, unless it passes well clear and takes into account the effect of aircraft wake turbulence.
– RPA pilots will be required to tune into the air traffic services for the controlled airspace they will be flying the drone, reporting coordinates to said traffic controllers, all flight activity also needs to be recorded in a logbook.
– Drones cannot be used to transport cargo or make deliveries.
– Drones cannot tow another aircraft, perform aerial or aerobatic displays or be flown in formation or swarm.
– All incidents involving an RPA must be reported, especially where there is an injury to a person, damage to property or destruction of the RPA beyond economical repair.
For those in possession or in the process of acquiring a drone, adhering and observing the above listed rules will certainly grant you peace of mind as well as security and safeguard the safety of other users of the airspace and the general public.