On Sunday (17 May 2015) the South African Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) announced that a set of new South African drone regulations will be coming into effect on 01 July 2015.

South African Drone Regulations 1

[SOURCE: PixGood]

These South African drone regulations have been signed into law by the Minister of Transport and are aimed at regulating remotely piloted aircrafts (RPA), commonly known as drones. According to the CAA, it’s unprecedented for a country to develop these kinds of regulations because it is usually the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO)’s job. However, the ICAO has yet to release comprehensive regulations regarding RPAs. So, the CAA took matters into its own hands and, together with the Department of Transport and other key industry leaders, developed regulations to address RPAs. The CAA stated that it would update the South African drone regulations with whichever Standards and Recommended Practices the ICAO releases in the future.

Check out our summary below of everything you need to know about these soon-to-be-enacted South African drone regulations:

1. What’s a RPA?

The official term used in these regulations for what a lot of us know as a “drone” is a “remotely piloted aircraft (RPA)“, is defined by the CAA to be:

[An] aircraft that can fly without a pilot on board. These aircrafts come in various shapes and sizes and can be controlled remotely by an individual on the ground, in another aircraft or through an on-board computer system.

According to the CAA the following do NOT qualify as RPAs:

  • Toy aircrafts;
  • Manned aircrafts;
  • Non-type certified aircrafts; and
  • Unmanned autonomous aircrafts or unmanned free balloons.

 2. What do the South African drone regulations require?

The new regulations require an RPA pilot to have a valid RPA licence, issued under these 3 categories:

  1. Aeroplane remote pilot licence;
  2. Helicopter remote pilot licence; or
  3. Multirotor remote pilot licence.

If you want to apply for a licence under the new regulations you need to meet the following requirements:

  • Be 18-years old or older;
  • Have a Class 4 medical certificate for beyond visual line of sight operations;
  • Hold a restricted certificate of proficiency in aeronautics; and
  • Be able to prove that you can speak English.

The requirements for a RPA in terms of the new South African drone regulations are:

  • The aircraft must be in a fit-to-fly condition;
  • The pilot must have a license in terms of the regulations;
  • The RPA must be connected and controlled by a compatible RPA remote; and
  • Only one pilot may control a RPA at a time.

3. What do the new regulations prohibit?

In terms of the new South African drone regulations you are not allowed to do the following with an RPA:

  • Tow another aircraft;
  • Perform aerial or aerobatic displays;
  • Be flown in formation or swarm;
  • Be flown close to or above a:
    • A person or group of people and keep a lateral distance of 50m from any person;
    • Nuclear power plant;
    • Police station, crime scene or court of law;
    • National key point; or
    • Strategic installation.
  • Be flown in bad weather that obstructs the RPA pilot’s vision;
  • Take-off or land on a public road; or
  • Be flown in controlled airspace;

The height restriction for operating a RPA is 400ft (121.92m) and you are prohibited from operating a RPA within a 10km radius of an aerodrome. Interestingly, the new South African drone regulations prohibits any RPA from releasing, dispensing, dropping, delivering or deploying of objects.

 Drop us a comment and let us know what you think about the new Regulations.