Drone pilots line up for registration
Dubai - Experienced drone users will be required to take a 30 multiple questions test and a flight test - all which can be done within a few hours at a cost of Dh350
By Sarwat Nasir
Published: Tue 8 Aug 2017, 10:03 PM
Last updated: Wed 9 Aug 2017, 9:57 AM
A total of 550 drone pilots have been certified so far this year and that number is expected to increase as the deadline to register drones approaches, the CEO of Sanad Academy, the institution behind accrediting and certifying drones, has said.
The Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Meteorology (Esma) recently announced that all recreational and commercial drones must be registered by September. The Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA) has also implemented the same regulations, making it mandatory for drones to be registered and their users to have a operating licence.
Sanad Academy is responsible for providing certifications for drones and pilots. Drone enthusiasts cannot get their pilot licence from the DCAA if they do not have this mandatory certification.
Mohammed Aziz from Sanad Academy said that the turnout of drone users at the academy is increasing.
"We are definitely expecting the number to increase because of the new regulations to own and operate a drone," Aziz told Khaleej Times.
"At Sanad Academy, we issue an operator certificate, which is required to prove that the drone user is qualified to pilot a drone. After they receive the mandatory certificate, they can submit it with the other required documents to the DCAA to get their licence."
Aziz highlighted it has become increasingly important for drone enthusiasts to register their drones because many people who come for training at the academy are not familiar with the regulations for flying drones in the country.
"It's extremely important for drone operators to receive training and be certified because they need to get the right information. They need to know the UAE operating laws. For example, a lot of the people coming in don't know that you are not allowed to fly your drone beyond 500 metres height. They need to learn the operating limits," Aziz said.
"They need to learn to take the airspace seriously and how dangerous it can be if a drone interrupts the airspace. If a drone comes in the way of a helicopter, for example, it can be really dangerous."
Sanad Academy provides a boot camp for new drone users and a quick certification process for the more experienced ones.
In the boot camp, which is one day and six hours long, users will learn the basics of how to operate a drone, the regulations around operating one and will be required to take a flight test. The cost for this package is Dh900.
For the experienced drone users, they will be required to take a 30 multiple questions test and a flight test - all which can be done within a few hours at a cost of Dh350.
The strict regulations came after several incidents which caused disruptions to the UAE airspace by drones. Till April 2017, there were a total of four drone-related incidents that caused the shut down of the Dubai airport. Each minute the airport is closed, it costs the Aviation industry $1 million.
Ready to get the licenceThe strict regulations have not deterred some drone enthusiasts from owning unmanned aerial vehicles as they're prepared to get their licence and registration.
A Lebanese expat and drone owner, Omar El Kattouri, said he is very passionate about drones and is willing to "jump through hoops" to get the necessary paperwork so he can operate his drone legally.
"I've always wanted to fly a drone before and recently I bought one and now waiting for my classes to start. And I have studied drone laws before owning one," he said.
El Kattouri is a filmmaker and wants to use a drone so he can make videos, meaning he will be going for the commercial drone licence.
A Jordanian expat, Ahmad Jaber, wants to get his hobbyist pilot licence.
"I already have a driver's licence and it wouldn't be a bad thing to have a drone pilot licence either. As drones become more popular and common, it's not a surprise that these kinds of regulations would be introduced," he said.
"There are planes, helicopters, jets and rockets in the skies - it can be chaotic if a random drone comes in their way. Also, now the aerial taxis are being brought in too, so we all need to be careful with our drones."
Jaber believes that he has enough experience with drones to opt for the quick multiple choice test and flight test option at Sanad Academy. He will submit his training certification to the aviation authority along with other required documents to get his drone licence and registration.
Drone operating laws> The UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) states that all drones, whether recreational or commercial, must be registered with the authority. The regulations also require drone operators to obtain a pilot licence in order to fly a drone.
> A map is also issued by the authority with no-fly zones that are marked in red. Drone operators are not allowed to fly near or inside the no-fly zones.
> Article 69 of the law stated by the GCAA states that a fine not exceeding Dh50,000 and/or imprisonment of one year will be given to drone users if:
- They operate without the necessary documents and certificates
- They operate with expired documents and certificates
- A person fly drones after consuming alcohol and his ability to fly a drone being compromised
- The drone causes damage to aeronautical communications facilities
- A person has entered the correct information in their certificates
> A penalty not exceeding Dh100,000 and/or imprisonment up to three years will be given if:
- A person flies the drone over a prohibited area
- A person lands his drone in a place where he was not granted permission to
- The drone is carrying weapons, or is being used with the intention of carrying out smuggling or a felony