Drone registration mandatory in UAE this September
Dubai - The direct costs of violating air traffic caused by unsafe drone use may reach Dh350,000 per minute
Published: Mon 7 Aug 2017, 5:03 PM
Last updated: Wed 9 Aug 2017, 8:54 AM
In the wake of unauthorised drone activity that resulted in flight diversions and airport closures, the Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology (ESMA) on Monday announced that the registration of drones used for recreational or commercial purposes shall become mandatory this September.
Abdulla Abdul Qader Al Maeeni, Director General - ESMA, said a list of technical requirements must be met for successful registration. "Traders and suppliers have three months to comply with the regulation in the UAE."
The UAE regulation, the first of its kind globally, is a proactive step taken by the UAE to legalize this market, he added.
"In the obstruction of air navigation, which threatens the safety of passengers through airports, as well as the lack of awareness of the operators of these Drones, the consequences of using them in an unsafe and prohibited places."
The direct costs of violating air traffic caused by unsafe drone use may reach Dh350,000 per minute, he explained. "Studies carried out by specialists at the TRA have shown that financial losses extend to wasting passengers time by 203 passengers per flight.
The Authority, to avoid these challenges, has set up technical requirements to regulate the circulation of these products and protect the society and national economy against any potential negative consequences, he said.
"As per the ministerial decree No 43/2017, all drones must bear an explanatory mark and warning in the Guidance Manual and shall be in Arabic and English."
The requirements for safe operation must also be met and in accordance with the General Authority for Civil Aviation, while the frequency of the aircraft shall be compatible with the frequencies allocated by the TRA, Al Maeeni elaborated.
There will be a central mechanism to track any drone in the UAE markets or airspace through a serial number of the product, he disclosed.
"All products must be certified by the manufacturer, bearing the factory's signature and stamp, and include detailed information on the manufacturer's address, brand, and classification of the purpose of using the drone."
The technical characteristics of the product in terms of weight and electromagnetic compatibility, and the property of satellite positioning, bandwidth, speed, and other details must be mentioned as well, Al Maeeni underlined.
"The producers and traders, as of next September, need to submit a request for a product status statement of 'ESMA' via our website, and later after the auditing process, a one-year valid certificate shall be issued."
Earlier speaking to Khaleej Times, Saj Ahmad, chief analyst at StrategicAero Research, said that a drone potentially striking an aircraft could be very dangerous. "Depending on the size of the drone, some of which can be as large as a light single-seat helicopter, the risk is that a jet could well be brought down."
"While engines are robustly tested for many types of ingestion, particularly birds, this new phenomenon with drones means that any collision could cause severe damage depending on the stage of flight - whether at taxi on the ground, take-off or landing.
Any structural impact on any sized airplane would force an emergency. This may well lead to an airport or airspace closure or restriction, he added. "Sudden airport closures like what we've seen at Dubai International can run into millions of dirhams very easily."
Speaking at the World Aviation Safety Summit held in Dubai in 2016, Michael Rudolph, head of Aviation Regulation and Safety at the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA), said "$1 million per minute - that's what it cost the economy of Dubai."
Abdullah Al Suri, an Emirati young man who has a drone, believed that drones, authorised or not, should never be used close to airports. "The new rule will help track abusers."
Eng. Mohammed Salem, Egyptian, said the mandatory registration will help prevent the recurrence of several incidents that took place in 2016 where unregistered drones caused the temporary closure of Dubai International Airport, leading to delays and closures.
"However, I would recommend that drone owners be given a three-year validity certificate instead of just one year, and they can also go through free special training to develop their awareness and avoid any possible hassle."