UAV Regulations: Speech by the Director of Civil Aviation 17 May 2015 at the announcement of the introduction of RPAS regulations
“…….this particular set of regulations will be known as Part 101.
Let me also clarify…. and believe me we did get a lot of queries whether these UAV regulations would extend to toy aircraft. The answer is NO!
In essence Part 101 of civil aviation regulations does not apply to:

  • toy aircraft;
  • an aircraft operated in terms of Part 94 (i.e. non-type certified aicraft) of the civil aviation regulations; and
  • autonomous unmanned aircraft, unmanned free balloons and their operations or other types of aircraft which cannot be managed on a real-time basis during flight.

In order to guide the basis for basic aviation safety and security, Part 101 of civil aviation UAV regulations states that:

  • No remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) shall be operated, unless such RPA has been issued with a letter of approval; which is valid for a period of 12 months.
  • No RPA shall be sold unless the seller has notified the buyer of the operational requirements as imposed by the SACAA.
  • No person shall operate an RPAS unless:
  1. the RPA is in a fit-to-fly condition;
  2. the pilot is the holder of a valid remote pilot licence;
  3. the remotely piloted aircraft station is compatible and interoperable with the aircraft it is connected to in all phases of flight; and
  4. the RPA is being controlled by only one piloted aircraft station at any given moment in time.
  • No RPA shall:
  1. tow another aircraft;
  2. perform aerial or aerobatic displays;
  3. be flown in formation or swarm;
  4. be flown adjacent to or above a nuclear power plant, prison, police station, crime scene, court of law, national key point or strategic installation.
  • No RPA shall be operated:
  1. above 400ft above the surface; and
  2. within a radius of 10 km from an aerodrome.

The new UAV regulations further prohibit:

  • the flying of an RPA directly overhead any person or group of people or within a lateral distance of 50m from any person;
  • the flying of an RPA within a lateral distance of 50m from any structure or building;
  • the operating of an RPAS in weather conditions that do not allow unobstructed visual contact to be maintained with the RPA by the operator unless and other airspace users, unless in approved beyond visual line of sight or night operations;
  • the use a public road as a place of landing or take-off of an RPA, except when involved in civil defense or law-enforcement operations and provided that at all times reasonable care is taken to ensure the safety of persons and property; and
  • the flying of an RPAS in controlled airspace, except by the holder of an RPAS operators certificate and on condition that such operations have been duly approved.

The new regulations further prescribe that an RPA pilot is expected to complete a pre-flight inspection prior to each flight. In addition, and except for restricted visual line of sight operations, no RPA shall be operated unless the RPA pilot has a functioning air-band radio in his / her possession, tuned to the frequency or frequencies applicable to the air traffic services unit providing services or controlling such area or airspace. The RPA pilot shall, using the registration of the RPA as a call-sign, make the required radio calls, indicating the altitude, location and intended operation of the RPA in that area and at such intervals as are required in order to ensure adequate separation from other aircraft is maintained.

Part 101 of civil aviation regulations also prohibits the releasing, dispensing, dropping, delivery or deployment of objects from a remotely piloted aircraft. The regulations further states that RPA shall not carry dangerous goods as cargo.
Further, the regulation states that no person shall act as pilot of an RPA, except when undergoing a skill test or receiving flight instruction, unless he or she is in possession of a valid remote pilot licence in the relevant category. A remote pilot licence may be issued for the following categories:

  • aeroplane remote pilot licence;
  • helicopter remote pilot licence; and
  • multi-rotor remote pilot licence.

In addition, the following ratings may be endorsed on the licence:

  • visual line of sight operations;
  • extended visual line of sight operations; and
  • beyond visual line of sight operations;

An applicant for a remote pilot licence shall:

  • not be less than 18 years of age;
  • hold at least a valid Class 4 medical certificate for beyond visual line of sight operations or operations involving RPAS classified as class 3 or higher; or
  • hold a restricted certificate of proficiency in radiotelephony (aeronautical); and
  • provide proof of the ability to speak the English language at proficiency level 4 or higher.

The holder of a remote pilot licence must maintain, in a pilot logbook, a record of all his or her flight time, instrument time, simulation time and instruction time.

Moreover, all accidents and incidents involving an RPA must be reported, especially where there is:

  • any injury to a person;
  • damage to property; or
  • destruction of the RPA beyond economical repair.

The new regulations also states that an RPA shall give way to manned aircraft.

Further, the RPA shall avoid passing over, under or in front of manned aircraft, unless it passes well clear and takes into account the effect of aircraft wake turbulence.