CAA Regulations Update - Explained and Simplified

Since the 1st of July 2015, CAA have implemented and are enforcing the new regulations as we have all been informed about and made aware of.  Most of us are really not sure where we fit in and hopefully I can make some sort of light on what I have found out so far and hopefully I can explain in my own words what you need to do to ensure you are flying safely and within the new laws.

CAA Regulations

With the new laws in place there are basically two categories that you would fall into as a drone pilot.  The one is someone who is flying their drone commercially and would receive some sort of compensation for the time and use of the RPAS that you own. The second is the hobbyist, or non-commercial pilot that has owned a drone and would use it only for recreational use.

If you fall into the first category, you are going to have to go through the full process of being registered with the CAA to be certified with the drone or drones you use registered with the relevant authorities.  I would highly recommend in this case going to the many workshops available that CAA and some third party associates of CAA are holding to try and explain and help those doing the RPA go through the process and get everything they need done properly.  The process is going to take some time so the sooner you begin and register your company to get approval, the sooner you can get through the mountain of paperwork that will be required.  

I assure you this is essential if you are going to continue to fly and use your drone as your profession.  You will get into big trouble if you are not compliant and you will not get any work as companies will not have the insurance available to hire you even if they have been using you for many years.  

The second category is the one I am sure most of you are wondering what you will need to do to be certified to fly as you have been.  Luckily we do not need to go about going through the full process like you would if you were flying commercially, but I would stress that getting certified will only stand you in good stead for the future, when drones are going to be incorporated into more industries than we can imagine.

So to clear the air about any uncertainties about what is expected by hobby pilots and what you will be allowed to do and what you are not allowed to do:

Hobby Drone Pilots:

  • Do not need an RPL (Remote Pilots Licence).

  • Do not need to register their RPAS aircraft.

  • Do not need Ops Manual, ROC, RLA, etc.

  • No not need air services licence.

  • Can fly RPAS up to 7kg weight.

  • Can fly at night (previous not allowed for any RC aircraft).

  • Can fly up to the height of the highest object in 300m of the drone (or up to a max of 400 feet, whichever is the lower of the 2).

  • Can fly up to 500m away from the pilot, while maintaining direct line of sight (RVLOS).

  • Need to keep more than 50m from people.

  • Need to keep more than 50m from roads.

  • Need to keep more than 50m from buildings.

  • Need to keep more than 10km from an aerodrome (airport or airstrip).

  • May not fly in No Fly Zones.

  • Do not need handheld Fire Extinguisher.

  • Do not need a First Aid Kit.

Now after all of that it is essential to understand that these are guidelines to help the guys having a bit of fun with their drone, that flying around people and densely populated areas will get into big trouble if you are reported flying in contradiction to the laws and more seriously prosecuted if you are to hurt someone or damage any property while flying your drone.

With this in mind, I would look at going out to a registered airfield, of which there are many all over the country, where you will be joined many other hobby enthusiasts flying many different aircrafts, where you could be sure that your area is safe and with most of the registered airfields being part of associations, you can be sure that you are flying where you know you can without keeping an eye out for someone ready to bust you for doing what you love.  Just google remote control airfield,  to find your nearest airfield and speak to guys there to find out more about what they recommend and what there affiliations are with the CAA or other organisations as most of them are all part of something that would be very beneficial to get more info and help.

Now for those who would want to go and get the RPL, this is what you would need to adhere to qualify to get your RPL.

Requirements to be able to get the Remote Pilots Licence;

  • Be 18 years old or older.

  • Complete a medical self assessment form (or an Aviation Medical class 4).

  • Sign up with an ATO (Authorized Training Organization).

  • Complete RPL theory and practical training program through a certified ATO, where required.

  • Hold English Language Proficiency level 4 or higher.

  • Hold a Restricted Certificate of Radiotelephony - Aeronautical.

  • Register as a student (student pilot licence number).

  • Pass an online theoretical knowledge exam at CAA (RPL exam contains basic air law, basic meteorology, basic principles of flight, design and construction, etc). - estimate cost of R650

  • Pass a skill test (practical flying demonstration).

From this point on the best way to go about this process is to join one of the schools being set up and going through them to get the necessary certifications and then doing your  practical flight and theory through the school.  You can get some of the names of the schools from the SafeDrone Website where John Gore has been amazing in getting the information we need to know to anyone who would like it.  Thanks John.

There is so much that can be discussed but this is a quick personal break down of what you should look into if you would like to go about getting fully registered with the SACAA.  I hope this made sense to you and if you need more info I am always here to try and help so contact me by emailing or calling Action Gear on 0117811323 and asking for me. Will hope to have your questions answered and if not will find the answer so let us know and as always HAPPY FLYING and remember, BE SAFE!

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