Draft RPAS (drone) regulations published for comment

December 8th, 2014, Published in Articles: PositionIT


The South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) has published for comment the proposed amendments to the Civil Aviation Regulations and Technical Standard, 2011 which relate to the regulatory requirements for the operation of remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS), unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or “drones” as they are more commonly known.


Some important concessions affecting the geospatial and surveying sector have been incorporated into the amendments. These include the following:

  • Persons/companies wishing to operate RPAS for commercial or corporate purposes need to apply for a RPAS Operators Certificate (ROC) from SACAA and only the holder of a valid Remote Pilot License (RPL) is legally allowed to pilot the RPAS. Pilot licensing includes a theoretical knowledge examination and a practical skill test to be performed to the satisfaction of the SACAA.
  • As the holder of a RPAS Operators Certificate and with special permission obtained from SACAA, night operations, operations in the vicinity of people, property, structures and buildings, and public roads may be conducted subject to conditions and restrictions outlined in the regulations and each special approval.
  • Provision has been made for extended visual line of sight (E-VLOS) operations up to a distance of 1000 m with the assistance of an observer, and beyond visual line of sight (B-VLOS) operations will be applicable beyond that distance from the pilot.
  • The introduction of the new concept of restricted line of sight (R-VLOS) operations for operators flying between high rise buildings and natural obstacles.

The publication of these draft regulations, and the inclusion of the above concessions, has followed several months of intensive consultations between SACAA, the Commercial Unmanned Aircraft Association of South Africa (CUAASA),  and industry with the ultimate intention of  ensuring that RPAS are  legally and safely operated, sold and/or manufactured in South Africa. Affected members of the surveying and geospatial community are urged to go through the regulations and provide comments before the stipulated date of 5 January 2015.

The comments can be accessed here: SACAAAmendment December 2014 and on the SACAA website www.caa.co.za

Any comments or representations on the proposed amendments should be lodged in writing with the chairperson of the Civil Aviation Regulations Committee (CARCom), for attention Monica Sonjani sonjanim@caa.co.za or Herman Wildenboer wildenboerh@caa.co.za before or on 5 January 2015.

Share your opinions on the draft regulations by emailing them to positionit@ee.co.za

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