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Getting your Drone License & 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 on drone insurance please contact us


    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 exclusive partnership with the only CAA certified drone school in South Africa. Offering part time courses in Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town. Prowings is certainly the only drone school to get your certified RPL as quick as possible! 

    As partners of Prowings, Action Gear SA 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.

    For information you can also phone Ludovic at Prowings.

    Details below: 

    Ludovic Michaux
    ProWings Training Facilitator
    ProWings Training
    C: +27 81 505 7291

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    • Hi Jonathan,
      Under the current laws it is not legal to fly commercially without a Remote Operator Certificate. You can operate as a hobbyist but still need to fly within the guidelines set out by the CAA. When the laws change you’ll still need a license to operate legally but the stringency of the requirements may become less difficult to achieve.

      Action Gear on
    • I would like to know if I purchase a Phantom 3 Professional Drone do i need a license to fly it for private use and if yes what are the requirements and cost

      Johann on
    • Hi, I’ve read that the regulations is still changing. What do yuo think about that and do you think it still will be possible to operate without license? / Best regards

      Jonathan on
    • Hi Leander, we’ve sent a reply to your query via email. Just to sum this up: If you are not flying for commercial purposes then you do not legally need to get a drone license. If you fly on your own properly without intending to sell your photos/ videos then you can fly as a hobbyist and therefore you would not require to get a license.

      With that said, you would still need to abide by the general rules set out by the CAA. These are also listed in our blog above :)

      To answer your question, it is possible to apply to fly at night legally but the application process would take about 18 months (with the current CAA back log) and cost about R80 – R90k.

      Action Gear on
    • I want to find out, i dont have a drone and want to studdy for Comecial license. Is it possible to the the correct paperwork and use my drone for search and rescue in and around my smallholding. And is it possible to fly in night legally?
      What is the cost asn duration, stay ing in Potgietersrus.

      Leander Moulder on

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