The RPAS, Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems industry in South Africa is predicted to expand at a quick rate in the not too distant future. This is based on Thomas Lawrenson, who is a partner at law firm Clyde & Co, who identifies the wide use of drones in the country that may involve everything from movie making and aerial studies, to agricultural surveys and news broadcasting.

Thomas Lawrenson states that “In South African law, the RPAS are managed by the Civil Aviation Regulations, Part 101 Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems, which came into effect over three years ago, on 1 July 2015”

“With regard to the private use of RPAS, Part 101, in essence, stipulates that RPAS may only be used for an individual’s personal and private purposes where there is no commercial outcome, interest or profit and only in occurrence where the pilot observes all permitted needs regarding the accountability, privacy and any other laws enforceable by any authorities.             

For all other operations of RPAS that is commercial, corporate and non-profit, the distinguishing regulatory characteristic is that the RPAS need to be registered and may only be functioned in compliance with Part 101.

Image result for drone regulations in south africa

Private RPAS operators are limited to operate RPAS with maximum take-off weight of 7kg, possible only in daylight and perfect weather conditions and have the additional restriction that they can function only in restricted VLOS, visual line of sight, that specifies an operation within 500m of the remote pilot and under the height of the highest obstacle within 300m of the RPAS, by which the remote pilot sustains unaided visual contact with the RPAS to maintain the flight and meet separation and collision avoidance responsibilities.”

Commercial Use

For commercial, corporate and non-profit RPAS operators to act in accordance with Part 101 and function RPAS legally, the following is needed:

  • Acquiring an RPAS letter of acceptance from the Director of the South African Civil Aviation Authority, which letter is workable for 12 months from the date of the problem
  • For each individual RPAS, apply for a certificate of registration
  • Apply for an RPAS operating certificate, which encircles the potential operator creating a manual consisting of all the instructions needed to exhibit how the operator would ensure compliance with all the regulations and safety standards. The holder of an RPAS Operators Certificate should also control the background checks on all personnel employed to manage, deploy or store RPAS
  • Reveal the maintenance programme for acceptance by the Director of the Civil Aviation Authority. There are recently no certification standards for RPAS, the Civil Aviation Authority has recommended that operators must keep RPAS in relation to the manufacturer’s guidance, whether via action or inspection.

Watch a video of Drone Laws in South Africa: