Changes to the Civil Aviation Act mean that the use of drones for commercial purposes is now regulated. Therefore, the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) views any drone flying in the sky as an aircraft that must abide by the same law as manned aircraft. This means a commercial drone pilot must go through a number of certification processes to legally operate a commercial drone.
The licensing requirements for drone operators are detailed and complex, including a registered Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS), commonly known as a drone, a RPAS Pilot Licence, Air Services License, RPAS Letter of Approval per drone, and Remote Operator Certificate (ROC). In addition, special approval is required to operate closer than 50 meters from buildings, 50 meters from people, 10kms from an airport, or in a controlled airspace, as well as release, deploy, or deliver any object or substance.
Wanting to operate a commercial drone but feel overwhelmed by these requirements? Join a managed ROC. Operating under a managed ROC means operating with the support of an organisation that fulfils the legal requirements for commercially operating a drone, including all required procedures, staff, and certifications.
The benefits of joining a managed ROC include
- Quicker entry to market as all processes are in place and in line
- Lower operational costs for the overall ROC requirement
- Comprehensive operational control, safety, and compliance support
- Drone maintenance and flight training
- Security processes and inspections
- Access to an established referral network of drone experts
While it is possible to teach yourself (or your staff) to operate a drone without professional training, illegal operators face the possibility of harsh fines by SACAA. A far better idea is for smaller drone operators to operate under the umbrella of a bigger drone operator, especially once you take into account all the compliance and safety requirements.
Whether for aerial media projects or commercial RPAS purposes, aviation compliance and safety is essential. At DC Geomatics, from take off to landing, we support film and photography professionals who are interested in becoming accredited commercial RPAS pilots. Once trained and qualified, these pilots can be contracted to our ROC to complete flight operations under our control and supervision (ensuring safety and compliance) while still maintaining independence in their chosen industries.