Drone Regulations in South Africa

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Why do I need a Drone Licence / RPL?

You will need to apply for an RPL if you aim to fly:

  • a drone for commercial use or if you earn remuneration directly or indirectly from flying a drone (SACAA CARs Part 101).
  • outside the drone safety rules for Model Aircraft (SACAA CARs Part 94).
  • on a remotely piloted aircraft operator’s certificate (ROC).

Drone laws and regulations in South Africa are closely modelled on existing aviation law, however, RPAS is separated into commercial and hobby operations. To avoid prosecution, these regulations must be adhered to, without exception.

Did you know? There are strict and compulsory SACAA regulatory controls and arrangements (rules and laws) governing the flying of any Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS), commonly known as drones!

Remotely operated hobby or toy aircraft and drone flying rules:

  • Do not, through act or omission, endanger the safety of any aircraft or person therein or any person or property through the negligent operation of any drone or remotely piloted aircraft, or model aircraft.
  • fly or operate a drone or remotely piloted aircraft, toy or model aircraft 50 m or closer to:
    • any person or group of persons, on sports fields, road races, at schools or any social events.
    • any property without permission from the property owner.
  • Unless approved by the SACAA, do not fly or operate a drone, remotely piloted aircraft, toy or model aircraft:
    • near manned aircraft.
    • 10km or closer to an aerodrome which includes an airport, helipad or airfield.
    • a drone that weighs more than 7 kilograms (15.4 pounds), for which you don’t have a license.
    • in controlled airspace.
    • in restricted airspace.
    • in prohibited airspace.
  • Do not fly or operate a drone or remotely piloted aircraft, toy or model aircraft higher than (120m) 400 ft from the ground, unless approved by the Director of Civil Aviation of the SACAA
  • General Basic Drone Flying Rules to which you must adhere:
    • You may not fly a drone within 10km of an airport.
    • You may not fly nearer than 50 metres from people, buildings or roads.
    • You may not fly a drone higher than 120m (400 feet).
    • ‘Hobby’ drones must be flown in within the line of sight.
    • Drones may not be flown at night.

Always fly:

  • your drone within your line of sight and below the highest obstacle in your vicinity.

Law Enforcement – SACAA / SAPS

Individuals not adhering to the regulatory requirements could be found guilty of gross negligence i.e., deliberate act of wrongdoing and could face severe punitive penalties based on the severity and likelihood i.e., RISK.

It is vital for everyone to be familiar with the current drone regulations. In the event that drone activity is spotted, please report it to ATC and file a report on the Pinky System (QR Code) or Air Maestro. It is imperative for all to comply with this procedure. Each and every Hazard filed will be escalated to the SACAA, AFB Durban and the SAPS Airwing as they use the coast, but at lower levels.

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South African Civil Aviation Authority

For more information please visit the South African Civil Aviation Authority website.

Click below to view the Part 101 Legislation.

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