22 May 2015

Namibia: Drone Regulation Setting Advanced

Aviation fanatics will be pleased to note that the Directorate of Civil Aviation is preparing regulations that will guide the use of unmanned aerial vehicles popularly known as drones. This follows the signing of regulations by South African Minister of Transport, Dipuo Peters last week.

The Economist was able to establish on good authority that the process was at an advanced stage. Speaking to the Economist this week, the source said, "We are currently in the drafting stage and it is at an advanced stage. Regulation of unmanned aerial vehicles within the context of Namibia is minimal."

In March of this year, members of the Directorate of Civil Aviation attended an international conference in Montreal, Canada were regulation of unmanned aerial vehicles was the talk of the town.

Said the source, "the industry was relatively new, many countries including Namibia did not expect growth in the drone industry". According to the source, there is a lot of interest for the use of drones. "We receive a lot of interest for the use of these unmanned aerial vehicles. Users then complete the applications and based on the intended use, we approve. We are not strict on regulation for recreational use."

Added the source, "We must get good regulation in place."

Current regulation in Namibia pertains to the following, "No person shall, without the prior approval of the Director and under such conditions which the Director may determine, operate a kite or a remotely piloted aircraft - (a) higher than 150 feet above the surface; (b) within a published controlled zone, air traffic zone or air traffic area; (c) closer than five nautical miles from the boundary of an aerodrome."

South Africa made history by becoming the first country to introduce regulations for the use of unmanned aerial vehicles in the absence of guidance from the International Civil Aviation Authority which would takes the lead in terms of developing Standards and Recommended Practices; and Regulators would then transliterate the prescribed standars into legally-enforceable local civil aviation regulations.

The issue of the use of these aerial vehicles was a bone of contention amongst users and regulators of late, with proponents advocating its use in the fight against crime and uses in medicine. Setting the standard for the world to follow, Director of Civil Aviation in South Africa, Poppy Khoza said when she introduced the regulatory framework last week.

"The Civil Aviation Authority is always 100% behind the development of the aviation industry. In fact, the development of the aviation industry is a critical aspect of our mandate. It is our primary mandate to regulate aviation safety & security and this we must do without fear or favour to preserve lives and aviation operations as mandated by the government of SA and her people," he added.

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