Written By Elzette
We like taking things to the next level and you can imagine our excitement when we started selling the DJI Phantom quadcopter in 2013. The fact that this little gadget could take footage to new heights and lower production costs really got us on board. Sales across the nation rapidly increased in 2014 and before long – those little eyes in the sky weren’t all that unusual.
But the quadcopter situation in South Africa has been getting a lot of attention, especially from the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA).
What is a Quadcopter or drone?
Also classified as UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), drones or quadcopters are aircraft that fly without a pilot and can be controlled remotely by someone on the ground. Strap a GoPro or other camera to it and you have the capability of capturing some amazing aerial footage – without taking to the sky yourself. With the introduction of the Zenmuse 3D Gimbal, the DJI Phantom quadcopter even has the capability to allow remote control of roll, pitch angling. The sky is the limit! Or is it?
Model aircraft policy for drones in South Africa
Despite the ban which was announced in the beginning of June (which is only applicable to commercial and not personal use) , we have seen a 200% increase in sales over the past few weeks The biggest we've seen yet! But it seems the SACAA has come back stating it is NOT illegal and NOT banned (yet).
The SACAA states: “Currently there are no regulations in place to enable and regulate operations of UAS in South African civil airspace. In accordance with the Civil Aviation Act, 2009 (Act No. 13, of 2009).
The SACAA would once more like to reiterate that currently there are no guidelines or regulations that can help define and as such regulate the use of unmanned aircraft systems. This is a concern that the organisation is working towards addressing as soon as possible. Further, the SACAA has made an undertaking to have an interim guidance document as a provisional solution to enable restricted operational approval of UAS on a case-by-case basis until regulations are in place. It is envisaged that the interim document will be completed before 31 March 2015, or sooner.
The interim document in question will address most of the issues that have been raised not only in south Africa, but are under consideration globally, for instance by the ICAO UASSG, and other international bodies. The SACAA is part of this ICAO Work Group.
In the meantime, the Regulator appeals to all stakeholders to err on the side of caution rather than risk unintended aviation disasters. Notwithstanding, we remain receptive to ideas that would contribute to the rapid development of a widely accepted regulatory framework.”