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Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS or ‘drones’)

Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS or ‘drones’)

For the first time in Namibia, off-shore operations were certified and an increased number of applications for the use of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS or ‘drones’) were approved. Drone technology and their applications have taken the world by storm and Namibia is no exception.

RPAS regulations were drafted and in the interim a directive was issued to regulate the use of drones in Namibia. As per requirement, the National Airspace Committee (NASC) was established and inaugurated to provide a national platform for the regulation and control of Namibia’s sovereign airspace.

NAMCAR Part 101 requires an approval from the Executive Director to operate a remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS) in any category asides from recreational (non-camera) toys. More specifically NAMCAR 101.03.1 specifies “A person may not carry out a Category II or III RPA or RPA system operation outside the property of the owner or operator except, under the authority of, and in accordance with the provisions of an approval issued under this Part”. In the absence of comprehensive approval procedures and fees this directive has been produced to guide the issuance of RPAS approvals (RPAS Letters of Approval or RLA’s) issued in terms of NAMCAR Part 101. This directive clearly identifies all the processes required to apply for and obtain an RPAS Letter of Approval (RLA) or RPAS Operating Certificate for private and commercial purposes and this Directive applies to all RPAS Operators.  

Increase in Unmannered Aircraft Vehicles (Drones): An Update

One example of rapid changes in the global aviation landscape, and already previously reported on, is that of the increased use of unmanned aircraft vehicles (UAVs, popularly also known as ‘drones’), and on how the NCAA currently controls the use thereof in Namibian airspace. These aircraft are increasingly being used for a wide range of applications, varying from meteorological applications, photography, farming, sporting or private use (toy aircraft), to highly complex aircraft piloted from remote locations by licensed aviation professionals. The latter are part of a category referred to as beyond line-of-sight (BVLOS) or visual line-of-sight (VLOS) operations, operated from a remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS).

Given the number of applications and enquiries received, Namibia is also expected to enter the world of UAV deliveries in its airspace from point to point soon. Thus, by the end of 2019 reporting period, the draft set regulations on UAVs had been submitted for scrutiny by the Ministry of Justice’s legal drafters. It is expected to be promulgated by the end of 2019. ICAO has directed, by an amendment of Annex 1, that Member States establishes a pilot personnel licensing regime for UAVs, which must become applicable by end of 2022.

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