South Africa eyes legalised drones

The Director of the SA Civil Aviation Authority announced on 17 May that South Africa will introduce new regulations to help regulate remotely piloted aircraft systems, popularly known as drones.

These regulations were recently signed by the Minister of Transport Dipuo Peters, and will be published and implementable by 1 July 2015.

The long-awaited regulations are expected to encourage drone development, with huge potential benefits for the security industry.

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,” said SACAA Director Poppy Khoza.

The aviation authority took an international position and customised it into the local regulations, taking into account the country’s unique conditions and the views of stakeholders and airspace users.

News24 reported that drone pilots will need a license, be at least 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”.

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”.

A letter of approval to fly a drone is also needed, which will be valid for a period of a year.

Drones would not be allowed to be flown over a long list of areas, including crime scenes, national key points, courts, or police stations.

“We are sitting on the cusp of an exciting new era of remotely piloted aircraft benefiting mankind,” said Ian Melamed, CEO of South Africa’s first Drone Flight School.

Melamed said a proper regulatory environment would serve as a catalyst for new drone applications.

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South Africa eyes legalised drones