By Andy Sambidge
Aviation authorities reveal plans to restrict use in UAE skies after drone shuts airspace for nearly an hour
The General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) said on Sunday it is currently drafting the regulations and criteria for using drones in UAE skies.
Authorities are also drafting regulations parallel to those implemented by GCAA to control the import and distribution of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) on the local market.
The move comes after air traffic in Dubai came to a standstill for nearly an hour last month as a result of unauthorised use of recreational drones.
Under the regulations, drones are divided into three categories - low capacity drones (not exceeding 25kg in weight), mid-capacity drones (ranging from 25 kg to 150kg), and advanced capacity drones, exceeding 150kg. The licensing rules of the three categories of aircrafts will be laid down for individuals, companies, and the governmental sector.
The rules and regulations of drone use and operation will include directives prohibiting their use near airports, populated communities, and individuals as well as restricted areas. Furthermore, drones must be kept within the vision span of the user, and personal use must only be conducted at authorised facilities. Cameras and telecommunication devices are only allowed with the permission of authorised agencies.
In drafting the UAV regulations, the GCAA said the aim is to have a comprehensive study of the drone types, usage, users; as well as personal and commercial purposes of these aircrafts.
Saif Mohammed Al Suwaidi, GCAA director general, said: “GCAA promotes modern aviation-related technologies and state-of-the-art innovations within the scope of national legislation, which ensures safe aviation.”
He stressed the importance of issuing required licences to reduce the unsystematic and erroneous use of drones.
He added: “As a legislative and supervisory agency of aviation safety and security in the UAE, we formed a national committee to conduct a comprehensive study to lay down detailed laws and legislation for these modern systems of drones.
"These will be added to the regulations currently in place, which prevent the use without prior permission from the GCAA, in coordination with the local aviation authorities.”
He said international efforts to develop a regulatory framework for the operation of drones were still "immature", with the UAE among only a few countries laying down a regulatory framework for this type of aircraft.
Ismail Al Blooshi, GCAA assistant director general for aviation safety affairs, said he expects a widespread use of drones in national skies in the coming period, because of the unlimited number of applications from a variety of business sectors and private companies.