Drone rules – what you need to know to stay out of trouble

A drone photo taken from 100 metres off the ground. Although it's impossible to recognise any person in the swimming pool, if the pilot dropped altitude he could have easily seen the people in their bathing suits. Photo: Bianca Pindral

What a wonderful time to be alive – a time when technology has far surpassed human imagination and has been the route of many adventures.

However, law enforcers have never been shy to warn techno fundis of the dangers of using certain types of technology and the rules made to protect both the user and the citizen. Drone images are clear and because of the excellent technology, pilots can fly the aircraft nearly 7km from where they are making it almost impossible to track the pilot.

It’s clear that if flown low to the ground, drone pilots can easily see what’s inside your house or yard.
Photo: Bianca Pindral

This makes trespassing on private property, invasion of privacy and spying easy. For instance when a drone is used to take a picture of residential houses, pilots can easily see how many cars are on the property, how many entrances the yard has and so on. Flying over swimming pools can also give paedophiles ample leverage to take pictures of minors in their bathing suits without parents being able to track them. These are some of the reasons the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) has created rules for flying a drone.

Tracking someone’s vehicle with a drone and spying on them is also possible.
Photo: Bianca Pindral

Remote-controlled aircraft or drones are among those technologies. Due to the obvious dangers such as invasion of privacy, collision and injury, SACAA enforced the following rules and regulations.

What you are not allowed to do with a drone:

• Don’t, through act or omission, endanger the safety of another aircraft or person therein or any person or property through negligent flying/ operation of remotely piloted aircraft, or toy aircraft

You’re not allowed to fly/ operate a drone aircraft 50m or closer from:

• Any person or group of persons (like sports field, road races, schools, social events, etc.)

• Any property without permission from the property owner

Don’t fly/ operate a drone or toy aircraft –

• Near manned aircraft

• 10km or closer to an aerodrome (airport, helipad, airfield)

• Weighing more than 7kg

• In controlled airspace

• In restricted airspace

• In prohibited airspace

Do not fly/ operate remotely piloted aircraft, or toy aircraft higher than 150ft (approximately 46 metres) from the ground, unless approved by the Director of Civil Aviation of SACAA.

Rules you have to follow:

• Fly/ operate drones or toy aircraft in a safe manner, at all times.

• Drones or toy aircraft should remain within the visual line of sight at all times.

• Fly/ operate drones in daylight and clear weather conditions.

• Inspect your aircraft before each flight.

Dangers of negligent operation of an RPA:

• Collision with other aircraft, with possible fatal results

• Injury to the public

• Damage to people’s property

• Legal liability for breaking laws such as privacy by-laws and other laws enforceable by other authorities.

It can be mentioned that no police station on the West Rand has reported any arrests with regard to breaking these laws.

For more information on the operation of model aircraft, drone or toy aircraft, visit the South African Civil Aviation Authority at http://www.caa.co.za/Pages/RPAS/Remotely%20Piloted%20Aircraft%20Systems.aspx

Do you perhaps have more information pertaining to this story? Email us at [email protected] or phone us on 011 955 1130.I 

For free daily local news on the West Rand, also visit our sister websites: 

Randfontein Herald

Roodepoort Record

Get It Joburg West Magazine

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Bianca Pindral

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