The operation of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) is regulated in terms of the South African Civil Aviation (SACAA) Regulations.
Acceptable uses of RPAs
For private use
- the RPAs may only be used for an individual’s personal and private purposes where there is no commercial outcome, interest or gain
- the RPA may only be operated over property for which the operator has ownership or permission
- the RPAs can only be used in Restricted Visual Line of Sight (R-VLOS) which means within 500 m of the pilot, and never to exceed the height of the highest obstacle within 300 m of the pilot, during which the pilot can maintain direct unaided visual contact with the device to manage its flight and collision avoidance
- the pilot must observe all statutory requirements relating to liability, privacy and any other laws enforceable by any other authorities
For all other use
- the RPA must first be approved by the SACAA for use by way of an RPA Letter of Authority (RLA)
- all RPAs must be registered by the SACAA prior to use
- an RPA may only be operated in terms of Part 101 of the SACAA Regulations which includes specific requirements that the operator shall hold an RPA Pilot License
“Remotely piloted aircraft” (RPA) means an unmanned aircraft which is piloted from a remote pilot station, excluding model aircraft and toy aircraft.
“Toy aircraft” means a product falling under the definition of aircraft which is designed or intended for use in play by children.
“Model aircraft” means a non-human-carrying aircraft capable of sustained flight in the atmosphere and used exclusively for air display, recreational use, sport or competitions.
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
Dos & Don’ts
- Do Fly/operate an RPA, or toy aircraft in a safe manner, at all times
- RPAs or toy aircraft should remain within the visual line of sight at all times
- Fly/operate RPA in daylight and clear weather conditions
- Inspect your aircraft before each flight
Do not, through act or omission, endanger the safety of another aircraft or person therein or any person or property through negligent flying/operation of an RPA, or toy aircraft.
Do not fly/operate an RPA, or toy aircraft 50 m 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
Unless approved by the SACAA, do not fly/operate an RPA or toy aircraft:
- Near manned aircraft
- 10 km or closer to an aerodrome (airport, helipad, airfield)
- Weighing more than 7 kg
- In controlled airspace
- In restricted airspace
- In prohibited airspace
Do not fly/operate an RPA, or toy aircraft higher than 45 m (150 ft) from the ground, unless approved by the Director of Civil Aviation of the SACAA.