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Getting your Drone License, Insurance & the laws explained

Posted by Action Gear on

By David Davies

Over the next 10 years drones will become part of our everyday lives. From production, surveying, security and animal stock taking. There are certain laws setup by the CAA for Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPAS) You’ll either be operating under Hobby laws (Private use) or commercial laws.

Private use or Hobby laws can be termed as follows by the CAA: For private operation, RPAS may only be used for an individuals personal and private purposes where there is no commercial outcome, interest or gain.

Hobby laws/Private use Flight rules are as follows:

  • Aerodromes – Not allowed to fly 10km within airport, Helipad or Airstrip.
  • Weather Conditions – Operate RPAS in daylight and clear weather conditions.
  • Intoxication – Do not operate RPAS while intoxicated.
  • Class of RPA – Class 1A or 1B (Mass <7KG)
  • RPA Vicinity – Do not operate within 50m or closer to any person, property or public road.
(Essentially these are no-fly zones)

    Rules of Flight for private/hobby use: Restricted Visual Line-of-sight (R-VLOS) which means an operation within 500m of the remote pilot and below the height of the highest obstacle within 300m of the RPA, in which the remote pliot maintains direct unaided visual contact with the RPA to manage its flight and meet separation and collision avoidance responsibilities. 

    NOTE: Insurance companies will only insure your drone inflight if you have your RPL! For more information, pricing and quotes on South African drone insurance please fill in the form at


    Operating commercially 

    Note: Getting your Remote Pilots License (RPL) does not entitle you to operate commercially just yet. It's the first step forward in developing a licensed drone pilot with the right knowledge, flight skills and most importantly understanding the safety elements involved when flying within manned airspace. 

    The South African African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) views any drone flying in the sky as a aircraft and must abide by the same law as manned aircraft. As a commercial pilot, a commercial drone pilot must also go through their own certification and exams. The first step would be getting your Remote Pilots License (RPL), second would be your Air Service License (ASL) from the department of transport and then your Remote Operators Certificate (ROC) from the SACAA. Only once you have these certificates can you operate commercially. 

    For anyone even considering commercial drone work or needing inflight drone insurance your RPL is a must have!

    Action Gear South Africa is proud to announce our partnerships with & RPAS Training academy the only CAA certified drone schools in South Africa. Offering part time courses in Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town. These are certainly the only drone school to get your certified RPL as quick as possible! 

    If purchased directly through Action Gear we can offer you 10-20% off your RPL course. Please click here for the product page. For more information please phone us on 011 781 1323 or email to show interest.

    To qualify for the Action Gear discount. Payment would be made to us using the product page portal. You may also pay using Discovery Miles or eBucks.


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    • I would like to obtain a skill in using my hobby drone into more substantial income or work related. What is the best route to follow?

      jan h vd westhuizen on
    • Hi Jonathan,

      If you make money (use it commercially) then you need a drone license. If you use the drone for a hobby you do not. Please give us a call 011 781 1323 should you require further assistance.

      Action Gear on
    • I think the question is being asked time and time again but a true answer is not clear.
      Does a person who owns a drone and uses it for private and recreation purposes need a license or letter or something to fly it ????

      Jonathan Watson on
    • Hi James, That is illegal. You’ll certainly be flying over roads within the residential area. Also have you got the permission from other residents, could be interpreted as invasion of privacy. Question comes down to what are your intentions? Commercial/hobby? We’ll put you in contact with one of the RPL schools who can answer in detail and direct you.

      ActionGear on
    • Hi, I have recently purchased the Phantom 4. Is it legal to fly a drone over a residential area (assuming all the other required conditions are met) as long as you keep it 50m above/away from houses and people?

      James on

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