Get to know the SACAA RPAS (Drone) Regulations

23 October 2017

It is the full responsibility of the remote pilot of the RPAS to fly his/her aircraft safely and not endanger the safety of another aircraft, any person or property.

The operation of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) is regulated in terms of the South African Civil Aviation (SACAA) Regulations.

Note that the Director of Civil Aviation has designated an external organisation to oversee the operations of recreational aviation. For more information on the operation of model aircraft, please contact the South African Model Aircraft Association (SAAMA).

Anything amiss? Let us know so that we can keep our information accurate and current.

Information accurately updated on 27/01/2018. 

Limitations & restrictions

Private operations of RPAs shall be conducted

  • only in R-VLOS 
  • with a Class 1A or 1B RPA (may not weigh more than 7 kg; have an impact energy* of less than 15 kJ) 

Do not fly an RPA

  • near manned aircraft
  • 10 km or closer to an aerodrome (airport, helipad or airfield)
  • in controlled, restricted or prohibited areas

Do not fly an RPA 50 m or closer from

  • any person or group of persons (like sports fields, road races, stadiums, schools, social events, etc.)
  • a public road
  • any property without permission from the property owner

Only fly an RPA in daylight and clear weather conditions

Responsible operation

Acceptable operation

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 pilot must observe all statutory requirements relating to liability, privacy and any other laws enforceable by any other authorities

For all other use

  • all RPAs must be registered and may only be operated in terms of Part 101 of the SACAA Regulations

Dangers of negligent operation

  • 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

​Definitions

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.

Private operation” means the use of an RPA for an individual’s personal and private purposes where there is no commercial outcome, interest or gain.

Restricted visual line-of-sight” (R-VLOS) means an operation within 500 m of the remote pilot and below the height of the highest obstacle within 300 m of the RPA, which the remote pilot maintains direct unaided visual contact with the RPA to manage its flight and meet separation and collision avoidance responsibilities.

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2 Comments

  1. Leo Theron 28 October 2017 at 3:21 pm - Reply

    The operation of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) is regulated in terms of the South African Civil Aviation (SACAA) Regulations. Operation as a hobbyist is subject to the terms of Part 94, whereas private use is restricted in terms of Regulation 101.01.2 of the CAA Regulations.

    What is the the difference between private use and a hobbyist? The big difference is between operation for “private use” and operation for “gain”, i.e. commercial operation.

    I suggest you check the relevant CAA regulations again.

    Best – HTH

    Leo Theron

  2. Michael Irschick 26 January 2018 at 7:07 am - Reply

    HI
    Please see the latest RPA rules and regulations here. The information above is not correct:
    http://www.caa.co.za/Pages/RPAS/Remotely%20Piloted%20Aircraft%20Systems.aspx
    or
    http://www.caa.co.za/Pages/RPAS/Private%20Operations.aspx

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