South Africa: Replying to a question posed by Democratic Alliance MP Thomas Hadebe, Transport Minister Dipuo Peters said that the South African Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is trying to finalise regulations for the flying of unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) – also known as remotely piloted air systems (RPAS – in the country’s civilian airspace by the end March 31, 2015.
“The process of developing regulations in this regard takes consideration of the unique new safety and security risks presented by the operation of RPAS … in South African airspace,” pointed out Peters. “Given the wide-ranging applications, it becomes prudent that the regulations are applied equally to all operators of RPAS, more so given that the risks presented by the operation of RPAS remain comparatively similar, regardless of application.”
“In all cases, a comprehensive analysis of inherent risk factors should be carried out before approval is granted,” she stated. “Additionally, it would be unconstitutional to permit the usage of RPAS technology in one sector whilst restricting other users.”
“The main focus and efforts in the development of these regulations is [the] continuation of the high levels of aviation safety enjoyed in South African today and the protection of the safety and security of the citizens of South Africa when this technology is introduced into our skies,” she affirmed.
Hadebe had also asked if the CAA would allow the use of “drones” in an anti-poaching role. The Minister’s reply noted that risks applied to all RPAS operations, including anti-poaching missions. She also expressed concern that poachers might themselves make use of UAVs. Caution was thus required.