On 3 June the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) released a statement in response to recent reports which suggested the organisation had set a ban on the use of unmanned aircraft vehicles (UAV).
Such claims caused upheaval amongst professionals in the film industry, as camera drones have, in the past, been widely used in the production of feature films, commercials and videos. SACAA responded, saying that the ban allegations were “beset with inaccuracies.”
SACAA maintains that the first and foremost purpose of the organisation is to ensure aviation safety and security for all South Africans and that, in order to remedy concerns, it is vital to clearly understand the respective regulations and safety implications surrounding the use of such aircrafts (UAV).
SACAA released the following statement: “SACAA has never issued any specific notice or regulation banning the use of UAV (unmanned aerial vehicles). The current Civil Aviation Regulations prescribe specific requirements for operating an aircraft in the South African airspace. To date, no UAS has been able to comply with these requirements. It should also be noted that the SACAA has not given any concession or approval to any organisation, individual, institution or government entity to operate UAS within the civil aviation airspace. Those that are flying any type of unmanned aircraft are doing so illegally.”
As UAV are relatively new to the civil aviation framework, SACAA along with relevant international authorities are working together to clearly define and integrate them in the South African airspace under the leadership of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). Aware that it is a matter of some urgency, SACAA has undertaken to have the proper guidance material and regulations in place by March 2015.
The statement explained: “As much as the SACAA is enthusiastic about the integration of UAV into the civilian airspace, all role-players need to be mindful of various security and safety aspects. Key among these is the need to ensure that the technology installed on UAV is able to detect and avoid incidents and accidents. There is also a need to develop robust standards that will ensure separation from other aircraft or objects. Likewise, an allocated frequency spectrum needs to be secure in order to provide protection from unintentional or unlawful interference with the UAS.”
In the interim, a guidance document which gives restricted operational approval on a case-by-case basis has been compiled as a temporary solution.
Visit the SACAA website or contact Kabelo Ledwaba on firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Also read more on this topic at Screen Africa