After a long period of time waiting, Kenyans will now be allowed to fly drones in the country’s airspace after the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) finally approved and published regulations that allow the use of unmanned aerial vehicles.
Now besides the government, private citizens and companies will be allowed to import, own and fly drones for recreation, commercial and private use as long as they operate within the tough regulations put by civil aviation authorities. The regulations put up by the KCAA for those that are interested in drones are as follows;
- One must first receive approval from the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority to operate a drone
- Civilians are limited to flying drones 400 feet above ground level and within 50 meters of any person, vessel, vehicle or structure which is not under the control of the person in charge of the drone
- A person shall not own, register or operate a drone with military specifications.
- Civilian drones are prohibited from flying over or around strategic installations, radar sites, high tension cables and communication masts, prisons, police stations, courts of law, scenes of crime unless a permit is issued.
- A person who intends to export a Kenyan registered remote piloted aircraft system shall notify the Authority in writing and obtain a deregistration certificate.
- Any person who contravenes the provisions of this regulation commits an offence and shall be liable, upon conviction, to a fine not exceeding Sh2 million or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months, or to both.
- Operators of drones will be required to subscribe for liability insurance.
- Civilian drones are prohibited from flying at night, unless specifically cleared by the Authority on a case by case basis
- The Authority may grant, upon application, a temporary permit to a person intending to operate a remote piloted aircraft system not registered in Kenya for a period of 30 days renewable once.
In addition, to be qualified as a drone pilot one must be over 18 years and will required to have the following;
- Hold a current Class 2 medical certificate
- Demonstrate English proficiency
- Hold a radio telephony licence
- Have completed a course of training approved by the KCAA
- Have passed a knowledge and skill test
- Have proof of identity
- Have police clearance certificate
- Subscribe to a liability insurance cover
By allowing the use of drones in the country despite the tough regulations, Kenya has joined the few African countries that have already adopted regulations for unarmed aerial vehicles. Kenyans were eagerly waiting for this to happen as according to the aviation regulator, over 1,000 applicants had sought regulatory approvals to operate drones in the country as early as the first quarter of 2017.
Even though the drone sector is still premature in the country, it is already beginning to see interest from film producers, providers of relief services like Red Cross and especially from companies who can’t wait to use them for commercial purpose.