Drone Time, or Not?

DJI Inspire 1 in Flight

Drones, or Multicopters as they are known, have caused controversy across the planet since they hit the hi-tech world of film making and photography a few years ago, not to mention being treated as rather dangerous toys by the public at large, and as a new arrow in the quiver of criminals and law enforcers.

Aerial video and photography have been revolutionised by these relatively small, powerful and versatile unmanned aerial platforms, but the controversy has been caused by irresponsible and inexperienced people getting hold of a drone and causing havoc by crashing into people, buildings, private property and invading other good citizens’ privacy whilst they sunbathe or entertain themselves in what used to be the privacy of their own homes.

The second reason for the controversy is that the criminal elements have been served a golden goose on a platter that allows them to carry out surveillance on potential crime scenes, use the drone for a bird’s eye view to anticipate the arrival of law enforcers, and the list goes on. Being a new technology, the law makers have been caught with their pants down, as there was no legislation in place until very recently to control the use of these amazing little machines and the licencing of their pilots, to ensure that they are sufficiently adept at flying them safely and within the bounds of the new laws.

Great news for OV&P and our clients is that we are booked on one of the first fully sanctioned pilots’ licencing courses to be conducted in South Africa. This is known as an RPL or Remote Pilot Licence, which will end the waiting and vacuum that has been created whilst the CAA and various committees have drafted the new legislation governing the use of Drones in South Africa. The best website to visit in order to follow the action and research pretty much everything on the subject is www.safedrone.co.za. For our part, we welcome this opportunity to comply and do the required studying and practical exams to qualify us to operate a fully fledged aerial video and photographic division within OV&P.

A plethora of subjects will be covered, such as Air Law, Navigation, Principles of Flight, Meteorology, Flight Performance and Planning, Operational Procedures and RPAS in general. We will also be qualifying in Restricted Radio and Telephony and undergoing a Class 4 Aviation medical to ensure that the old body and brain are still functioning satisfactorily. The bad news for those folk out there who just want to fly for fun is that they are going to have their wings clipped in the near future – excuse the pun 🙂 – because the new legislation stipulates that unlicensed pilots who do not fly commercially will not be able to fly within 50 metres of people, buildings and public places, which essentially restricts them to flying on private land, far from people, etc.

We at OV&P are relieved that the legislation is finally here and that we can comply as soon as possible. The R30,000 price tag plus the required study and practice will probably keep most people honest, and hopefully keep the air ways safer than they would be without this essential set of rules and regs.

So, is it DRONE TIME, or NOT?

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