Know laws of flying drones

Image source: www.static.dezeen.com

Eric Addison wishes to warn residents that it is illegal to operate drones within a 10km radius of civil aviation airspace.

At 10.45am on Sunday, Addison took off from the Springs Airfield on runway 2-1, heading toward KwaThema area.

“I was at an altitude of 6 500 feet, banking slightly to the left,” he says.

A drone, flying at about 7 000 feet, came directly at his aircraft, but Addison says he just kept on banking left.

Also read: Breath-taking drone footage of South Africa

“It came quite close to the aircraft, but luckily nothing happened.”

Addison wants to make people aware of the laws regarding flying drones in an airspace.

He says it can be very serious and is not taken lightly and can result in a criminal case as it is illegal to operate unmanned aircraft systems in this area.

Addison says when a drone is operated, and the user presses a button ‘Go Home’ the drone heads in a straight line towards its designated spot.

Also read: Drone footage of dolphins surfing at Umdloti Beach, Durban

“This can be very dangerous,” he says.

According to the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) a Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) must not be operated or flown, unless approved by the SACAA:

• near manned aircraft,

• 10km or closer to an aerodrome (airport, helipad, airfield),

• weighing more than 7kg,

• in controlled airspace,

• in restricted airspace,

• in prohibited airspace.

SACAA also states that residents must not fly/operate RPAs, or toy aircraft higher than 150 feet from the ground, unless approved by the director of Civil Aviation of the SACAA.

Acceptable uses of RPAs are:

For private use:

• RPAs may only be used for an individual’s personal and private purposes where there is no commercial outcome, interest or gain.

• The pilot must observe all statutory requirements relating to liability, privacy and any other laws enforceable by any other authorities.

For all other use:

An RPA must be registered and may only be operated in terms of Part 101 of the South African Civil Aviation Regulations.

Dangers of negligent operation of an RPA:

• Collision with other aircraft, with possibly fatal results.

• Injury to the public.

• Damage to a person’s property.

• Legal liability for breaking laws such as privacy by-laws and other laws enforceable by other authorities.

SACAA also stresses that residents do not, through act or omission, endanger the safety of another aircraft or person therein or any person or property through negligent flying/operation of a RPA or toy aircraft.

Do not fly/operate a RPA or toy aircraft 50m or closer from:

• Any person or group of people (sports field, road races, schools, social events, etc.).

• Any property without permission from the property owner.

Operate RPAs in a safe manner at all times.

According to SACAA, RPAs should remain within the visual line of sight at all times.

“Operate RPAs in daylight and clear weather conditions and inspect your aircraft before each flight.”

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