Earlier this year, the laws around legal operation of remote control aircraft – aka drones, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or Remote Piloted Aerial Systems (RPAS) – changed in South Africa, introducing a framework for where and how drones can be flown, and who is allowed to fly them. These new restrictions and regulations don’t, on the whole, apply to the kind of quadcopters that are going to popular as presents this Christmas and if you’re flying a drone for fun the main thing to be aware of is where their use is banned. That’s within 10km of an airport, 50m of a building or road and no higher than 400m. Also, a hobby drone must be flown within line of sight, which means you shouldn’t be flying at night either.
For commercial purposes, things are a bit more complicated. There’s a list of requirements over at the excellent Safe Drone website, and you’ll need to register your drone with the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) and provide documents like an operations manual before you can use your aircraft to make money.
The first thing anyone who wants to fly a drone will need to do, however, is acquire a Remote Pilots Licence (RPL). Once you have that, as John Gore of Safe Drone points out in the comments below, you can seek employment in the nascent industry and work towards the other requirements to start your own firm. ProWings is the first South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA)-approved RPL training school in South Africa and, for a fee, they’ll help you get a licence.
To make sure a pilot is physically able, a medical examination is needed. This includes an “Aviation medical” as well as a chest x-ray. Both of these can be done through ProWings for an additional fee, or through a SACAA-approved doctor. Once this has been passed, a medical certificate will be awarded.
This is a separate licence that is comprised of up to three exams: Visual Line Of Sight (VLOS), Extended Visual Line Of Sight (EVLOS) and Beyond Visual Line Of Sight (BVLOS). These three relate to your ability to actually see the drone you are piloting. VLOS and EVLOS deal with seeing the drone with the naked eye and involve written exams. BVLOS applies to operating drone out of your view and is achieved with an online exam. Note, however, that the BVLOS requires a special permission from the SACAA director.
Only one of the three is required for the drone licence, and will dictate how you can operate your drone. The price for all three is included at the bottom of the page. Like the medical, these can be done through SACAA-approved channels at exam centres, or ProWings themselves.
For beginners (that is, non-accredited pilots) the theory course is a full-time two-week course.
Accredited pilots are those who hold the following licence(s): Private Pilot Licence (PPL), National Pilot Licence (NPL) and Commercial Pilots Licence (CPL). Accredited pilots only need to attend the second week.
The two weeks of theory are comprised of:
After the theory course has been completed, a practical needs to be completed.
These exams are broken down into “ratings”:
The ratings above refer to the type of drone you’re looking to pilot.
You may get multiple ratings, allowing you to pilot different types of drones, but you will need to pay for additional exams (R850 each).
Each exam is around 15 minutes in length, and consists of a pre-flight check, testing of certain manoeuvres and questions to make sure you understand the technical terms relating to piloting the drone.
This is only required if you did not complete matric (or equivalent) with English as a first language subject.
Like the medical exam, this can be done through ProWings or through an SACAA-approved examiner.
The Student Files will be put together by both ProWings and the person applying to be a licence. An application will be accompanied by
After submitting theaccplication form to the SACAA, it will decide whether or not to issue a RPL
The SACAA’s turnaround time for a decision varies.
Once the decision is made, they will either contact you with details in claiming the licence or a denial.
In the case of a denial, though, the SACAA will indicate why. Once this problem has been resolved in the Student File, it can be resubmitted, but another R500 application fee will be due.
Total estimated cost : R44 575
A Licence is valid for 24 months.
Application for renewal process should be done two months prior to the expiry date.
Revalidation certificate lasts 36 months thereafter.
The licence is only applicable in South Africa.
original article here.
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