How to Operate Drones Legally in South Africa

How to Operate Drones Legally in South Africa

Although the draft regulations have not yet been adopted, a number of drone operators have begun to comply with the draft regulations.

For example, it is possible to achieve a number of the requirements of the draft regulations, including the following.

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Some Drone Operators Already Have Achieved the Following:

  • Restricted Radio Licence (also known as Restricted Certificate of Radiotelephony – Aeronautical).  Online theory exam at CAA as well as a practical exam with a certified examiner.
  • Aviation Medical Certificate (class 4 or 2, or self assessment depending on your operation).
  • English Language Proficiency Certificate.
  • RPL pilot training (practical and theory training for RPAS as per regs).
  • Prepared documents to be ready to submit as soon as it is possible to do so (see below).
  • RPAS Flight Manual.
  • RPAS Maintenance program (manufacturer).
  • RPAS technical description.
  • Operations Manual (operator).
  • SMS (as per regs).
  • QMS (as per regs).
  • Field Operations Manual.
  • Criminal record checks of all staff.

After the draft regulations are adopted, drone operators will be able to progress further.

 Not Yet Possible to Achieve:

  • RPL – Remote Pilot Licence.  Will be a single online exam at CAA.
  • RPA registration (will be a registration number starting with ZT…)
  • ROC (RPAS Operating Certificate).
  • RLA (RPA Letter of Approval).
  • Permission for Aerial Work from Air Services Council.

This article applies to commercial drone operations.


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