The South African drone regulations come into effect on Wednesday (1 July) and are among the most stringent in the world, thanks to the Ministry of Transport.
While anybody above the age of 18 will be allowed to purchase a drone – with or without a licence – the regulations restrict the use of drones dramatically, according to SA law firm, Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr.
Anja Hofmeyr, director, and Richard Chemaly, candidate attorney, dispute resolution, at the law firm note that as technology progresses, so too must the country’s laws.
Drones, formally known as remotely piloted aircraft (RPA), have existed for at least a decade but their application was limited and costs prohibitive. Today, however, the dramatically increased availability of drones demands additional regulation of the skies.
The new regulations will affect most drones, from those recording news to those dispensing beer at music festivals – drones dispensing anything will be subject to additional licensing requirements.
Prior to 1 July 2015, the only regulations affecting drones was captured in two brief sections of Part 94 of the Civil Aviation Regulations. Fortunately for hobbyists, these sections still apply exclusively, Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr pointed out.
This means that no licence will be required and distance thresholds are 150 feet above the surface and from any public road.
The newly adopted 29 page regulations – known as Part 101 – apply to everything from private to commercial use.
Private use regulation is restricted and entails that:
- the use drone has no commercial interest;
- the drone is operated on property owned by the operator (or on property that the operator has the necessary permission to fly on); and
- distance thresholds – 500m from the pilot and never higher than any obstacle within 300m from the pilot – of operation are maintained.
While certain universal standards of use still apply to private use, there is no obligation to have the RPA approved and registered nor is there a licensing requirement, Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr stated.
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com