General Rules for Drones
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- If the purpose of your drone flight is recreational, you do not have to register your drone or seek any licenses. However, the SACAA RPAS rules and regulations still apply.
- A recreational drone user should not fly a drone exceeding 7 Kg. This should not be a problem as hobby pilots aren’t allowed to transport cargo or carry passengers.
- Night flying is prohibited and day travel is only authorized if the weather is clear.
- You must always maintain a visual line of sight in what is referred to as R-VLOS.
- The maximum distance permitted for the drone pilot is 500 m while maintaining direct sight.
- The drone should fly no higher than 120 m (400 ft) from ground
- Keep away (50 m) from buildings, people, and roads.
- Maintain a healthy 10 Km or more away from any airport
- You can look up the no-fly zones within the country. Good examples are prisons, courts of law, nuclear power plants, and a lot more.
Laws for Recreational Drones
If you wish to fly your drone just for the sake of fun and recreation, then you must learn about all the rules that you need to follow first.
Before we go dive deep into the rules and laws, let me clarify the difference between commercial and recreational drones first.
Drones that are used solely for the sake of recreation with no commercial outcomes, gain, or interest and recreational drones. In order to fly recreational drones in South Africa, the Pilot needs to follow all the below-mentioned rules and regulations.
- The pilot must safely fly the remotely piloted aircraft in all conditions
- The drone must always be within the direct line of sight range
- You are not allowed to fly your drone at night or in conditions with poor visibility
- You must always inspect and check the drone properly before each flight
- You must never fly your drone near a group of people or vehicles or even near any private property without proper permission
- You can't fly your drone within the vicinity of manned aircraft and airports
- The maximum weight of the drone should never exceed 7 Kg including all the payload
- You must avoid flying in controlled, restricted, and prohibited airspaces
Rules on commercial drone use in South Africa
Going by law, South Africa requires any use of drones that results in a transactional exchange to be classified as commercial drone use.
If you fall under this category you need a drone license yourself and registration for the drone. In the event you are a foreigner with a drone pilot license, you should have it validated and approved by contacting email@example.com
The eligibility test for commercial drone use is:
- Over 18 years of age
- Good health medical assessment report
- English language proficiency
Where to fly my drone while in South Africa
Since you've learned about different rules and regulations for drones in South Africa it's time to learn about the locations where you are allowed to fly your drone in South Africa. We all know that South Africa is quite big but you don't have to memorize all the places, we've got you covered.
A look at the app will point out the areas that need attention and those that do not. Avoid going near any military infrastructure or any property of national significance.
You can fly your drone in all national parks but you will have to take a permit first. In terms of restricted airspace, you are not allowed to fly within the vicinity of any airport without prior permission from the authorities.
Should I get a drone license in South Africa?
Contact a registered training academy in the country. You can find them here. The license is generally in two parts:
- The theory and practical exam
- Special form
How long does my license in South Africa remain valid?
The license remains valid for two years from the date it was certified. Upon certification, fill out this form.
How to register a drone in South Africa
The registration process is quite simple just like in any other country. To register your drone, you will need to fill out this form (Form CA-47R1) and submit it to the authorized body. After registering your drone, you will be given a registration number that must be displayed on the drone at all times while flying.
How old must one be to register for a drone in South Africa?
To be eligible for drone registration, you should be 16 years old.
Can I be penalized for illegally flying a drone in South Africa?
As with everywhere else, the severity of your punishments depends on the charge levied against you. If you are lucky, you will part with a hefty fine of 3,500 Rand. If unlucky, you are looking at 10 years worth of jail time.