No ban on drones in South Africa

No specific notice or regulation to ban unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), also popularly known as drones, has been issued by the South African Civil Aviation Authority (Sacaa).

A drone at Supertubes. Photo: Robbie Irlam
A drone at Supertubes. Photo: Robbie Irlam

In a statement, Sacaa said reports that suggested that they had recently issued a notice banning UAS systems, specifically in the film industry, were inaccurate.
However, Sacaa is working on the integration of drones into the South African airspace.
“Sacaa has never issued any specific notice or regulation banning the use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).
The current Civil Aviation Regulations prescribe specific requirements for operating an aircraft in the South African airspace. To date, no UAS has been able to comply with these requirements,” said Sacaa spokesperson Kabelo Ledwaba.
Media reports last week claimed that the use of flying drones with mounted cameras has been banned with immediate effect by Sacaa.
Sacaa is cognisant of the urgent need and demand for UAS implementation.
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“It is for this reason that Sacaa has allocated the necessary resources to the UAS programme to ensure a speedy integration of this type of aircraft into the South African airspace.
In addition, Sacaa is currently compiling an interim guidance document as a provisional solution to enable restricted operational approval on a case-by-case basis, until maturity is attained by both the industry and Sacaa,” said Ledwaba.
Progress on this front has been made, with the document expected to be ready before the end of the current financial year (i.e. 31 March 2015).
“Engagement with industry representatives will continue and Sacaa remains receptive to any input from role players,” Ledwaba said.
Sacaa has the mandate to ensure aviation safety and security for all South Africans.
Ledwaba said that Sacaa is committed to the development of the country’s aviation sector, especially the UAS sector, which is a relatively new component of the civil aviation framework.
“This constitutes a relatively new component of the civil aviation framework, one which the Sacaa – together with civil aviation authorities worldwide and under the guidance of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) – is working to understand, define and ultimately integrate into the civil aviation sector.”

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