Outdoorphoto Blog » Familiarise yourself with the SA Civil Aviation Remotely Piloted Aircraft System Regulations

Familiarise yourself with the SA Civil Aviation Remotely Piloted Aircraft System Regulations


The operation of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) is regulated in terms of the South African Civil Aviation (SACAA) Regulations. The regulations below are copied directly from the SACAA website.

Our understanding of the SACAA Regulations.

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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

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.

Important links

• Full SACAA Legislation

• Part 101: Remotely Piloted Systems Regulation

• Part 94: Operation of NonType Certificated Aircraft


“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.

About the Author:

Outdoorphoto is a photography specialist shop in Pretoria, South Africa. We love everything photography and that enthusiasm spills over to our community. We love writing and sharing interesting stories and news about photography and about ourselves with people with a passion for this lifestyle. Outdoorphoto has a beautiful online shop as well as a mega store in Garsfontein Drive, Pretoria. We not only sell cameras and other photographic gear, but also offer equipment rentals. We also have a massive community with a forum and photo galleries where our community family share and discuss their passion.

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