Japan has announced another move towards codifying regulations for commercial drones. In an effort to balance safety with support of the industry, the Japanese transport ministry says it will develop a system to “certify” qualified drone pilots through private organizations.
The ministry plans to establish the criteria for certification by next spring, developing training programs which will be provided to drone operators through private organizations. The government will also provide criteria for evaluating the quality of trainers and certification exams: organization can begin applying to the government for permission to act as certification resources next April. The ministry will post names of certified organizations on their website.
Current Japanese drone regulations severely limit the use of drones in cities, after an incident last year involving a drone landing on the roof of the prime minister’s office. Drone operators must get permission from the ministry of transport for any flight over crowded areas, near airports, over events, or at an altitude higher than 150 meters, or about 490 feet. Drone operators must state in writing that they have experience and skill as a drone operator; but the ministry currently has no way of confirming their statements. The new system will provide the government with objective proof of the operator’s qualifications and should streamline the application process.
Japan has offered significant regulation in favor of the commercial drone industry, since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called it “Part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution” and pledged his support. Special “deregulation zones” allow for testing of drone delivery and other applications. The government has reserved radio frequencies for the special use of drones; and has pledged to introduce regulations to allow flight beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) soon.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
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