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Wed 12 Apr 2017 09:16 AM

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Dubai makes licenses mandatory for all drone users

DCAA says ‘sky commander’ technology now allows it to track drone activity in real time

Dubai makes licenses mandatory for all drone users

The Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA) is clamping down on rogue drones by making it mandatory for all drone operators to apply for a license.

Under the new regulations, which are effective from May 1, retail outlets in the emirates, including grey market places like Dragon Mart, will not be to sell drones unless the the buyer has completed the DCAA registration process to procure a license.

“People will be able to buy drones at any retail outlets in Dubai, but they will not be allowed to remove it out from the store unless they have got a license,” Michael Rudolph, head of airspace safety, aviation safety and environment sector, DCAA, said this week.

“Buyers will also have to undergo a mandatory training programme that will test their drone skills,” he added.

At present, the UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) also requires drone operators to register drones with them.

“The GCAA requirement is applicable for other emirates if you want to fly it in Al Ain or Ras Al Khaimah. The Law No 7 of 2015 on aviation safety mandates us to further enhance safety in Dubai as we have the highest volume of commercial traffic in the UAE and across the GCC.”

Currently, there are close to 1,000 registered drone users in the emirate, of which 60 are commercial operators.

Rudolph revealed the authority has started installing “sky commander” system, a technology developed in-house, in all registered drones from early 2017, which allows it to track drone activity in real time.

The measure is one of the many that have been put in place to stop drone intrusions in restricted airspace. Drone intrusions at Dubai International Airport in the past year have led to temporary closures, traffic disruptions and huge economic losses.

“With the sky commander, we are able to track the path, altitude and speed of the drone. In case of any violation, we and the drone operator is immediately alerted following which we can ask the operator to rectify their course or can terminate his flight,” Rudolph added.

He also confirmed DCAA, GCAA and other emirates were working on having a common standard for drones.

“We are coordinating with the federal agency and other emirates on the issue of having some kind of set standard for drones,” he said without giving further details.

In March, GCAA director-general Saif Mohammed Al Suwaidi told Arabian Business that the UAE was working on setting up new standards for drones and will stop importing unmanned aerial vehicles that don’t meet the set guidelines.

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