The South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) will be introducing new regulations that will help regulate remotely piloted aircraft systems, popularly known as drones.
“These regulations have recently been signed by the Minister of Transport, Dipuo Peters, and will be published and implementable by 1 July,” SACAA Director Poppy Khoza said on Sunday.
Remotely piloted aircraft systems are aircrafts that can fly without a pilot on board.
Speaking at a media briefing in Midrand, Khoza said the SACAA together with the Department of Transport as well as key industry role players collectively worked to develop the new regulations.
“In developing the regulations, the SACAA sourced and received valuable input from relevant state entities as well as industry role players including operators, manufactures and other airspace users,” she said.
Khoza said South Africa’s aviation safety and security setting is highly regarded throughout the world.
The rating by the International Civil Aviation Organisation for South Africa is above the 80 percent world average.
“This is the record we do not wish to compromise. In coming up with these regulations, the SACAA took into account the national safety and security needs into account,” she said.
The aviation authority also took an international position and customized it into the local regulations, taking into account, the country’s unique conditions and the views of stakeholders and airspace users.
“As the SACAA we are not claiming that these new regulations are static. Given the rapid pace of technological development in this area, we treat the Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) regulatory framework as continual work in progress and hence we will continue to engage with industry to refine the regulations when, where and as deemed necessary,” Khoza said.
She urged all operators and airspace users to observe and comply with the new regulations.
“We should always remember that in aviation there is absolutely no room for errors… as errors usually result in the loss of lives,” Khoza said.
She said the aviation authority will conduct national industry workshops to discuss the implementation of the regulations.
A person would need a licence to fly a drone, at minimum be 18-years-old, and hold at least a valid class four medical certificate for beyond visual line of sight operations, or operations involving drones classified as class 3 or higher. Class 3 craft have a maximum take off mass of between 20 and 150 kilograms and a height ceiling of 400 metres. The highest class – Class 5 – was reserved in the draft regulations.
Alternatively, they would need to hold a restricted certificate of proficiency in aeronautical radiotelephony, and a drone pilot would also need to provide proof they speak English at a proficiency level of four or higher.
If a person has the correct licence, they would still need an issued letter of approval, valid for a period of 12 months. A drone could not be sold unless the seller notified the buyer of the operational requirements as imposed by the Sacaa.
Among the raft of new regulations, known as Part 101, it specifies that a drone cannot tow another aircraft, perform aerial or aerobatic displays, or be flown in a formation or swarm.
Further, drones cannot be flown next to or above a nuclear power plant, prison, police station, crime scene, court of law, national key point or strategic installation.
No drone could be operated 121.92m above the surface, or within a radius of 10km from an aerodrome, be flown overhead any person or group, or within a lateral distance of 50m from any person, or within a lateral distance of 50m from any structure or building.
The use of public roads for the landing and taking-off of a drone was also prohibited, unless for civil defence of law-enforcement purposes.
After months of amendments, refining and incorporating requests by various stakeholders, a draft was sent to Peters for review and approval. The regulations were finalised on May 5.
The regulations did not apply to toy aircraft, and an aircraft operated in terms of Part 94 – non-type certified aircraft – of the civil aviation regulations.
Nor did they apply to autonomous unmanned aircraft, unmanned free balloons and their operations or other types of aircraft which cannot be managed on a real-time basis during flight.
The draft regulations only apply to operators who wish to fly their unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) – also known as autonomous unmanned aircraft -for commercial purposes. For anyone in South Africa with a UAV, there are three options to fly legally: one can apply for a license if pursuing commercial work (once the regulations are finalised); one can become a member of the South African Model Aircraft Association (SAMAA) if flying as a hobbyist; or one can fly as a ‘park flyer’.
SAMAA members are only allowed to fly at SAMAA airfields while park flyers can fly without belonging to SAMAA or getting special permission. According to Pierre Laubscher, the operations manager of the Recreational Aviation Administration of South Africa (RAASA), park flyers can only fly aircraft weighing less than 1 kg and using an open frequency band for control. Park flyers must not fly their aircraft higher than 150 feet, within 5 nautical miles of an airfield and their aircraft must remain within visual line of sight.
The new regulations can be found on www.caa.co.za from Tuesday. – SAnews.gov.za
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Article source: http://mype.co.za/new/drone-flight-regulations/49267/2015/05