CAAP amends rules on drones

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The Civil Aviation Authority (CAAP) said it will be implementing a more relaxed set of rules and regulations on drones to make way for the increasing number of enthusiasts in the country.

CAAP said that it has amended its rules and regulations to simplify the requirements for drone controllers and operators.

CAAP Director General William Hotchkiss 3rd said with the increasing number of drone enthusiasts, the existing drone operation regulations should be altered.

“The operation of drones has grown exponentially over the past years, and although the authority already has safety and security regulations and operational requirements for drones, we have to make adjustments to keep up with developments in the technology to enhance and ensure the safe and secure drone operations.” Hotchkiss said.


He pointed out that the drone operation regulations incorporated in the Philippine Civil Aviation Regulation (PCAR) focus mainly on commercially-used drones.

Hotchkiss said that with the growing appreciation for drones, a new set of streamlined rules and regulations must be implemented to have drone owners operate the unmanned vehicles responsibly.

“But there is a growing number of people who use these drones for non-commercial purposes, and we have to address that and make sure that these drones are operated responsibly by their owners,” Hotchkiss said.

In the amended rules and regulations, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have been renamed Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) in compliance with the International Civil Aviation Organization’s identification of drone operations.

The CAAP also simplified the net weight classification of RPAs into small which are 7 kilograms or lighter and large, weighing more than 7 kilograms.

CAAP said an RPA controller no longer needs to have the restricted radio telephone operator certificate to be issued an RPA Controller Certificate, and an RPAS operator need not have military intelligence clearance to obtain an RPAS Operator Certificate.

Operations and flight manuals were changed to just a Users Manual issued by the manufacturer as a requirement for the Certificate of Registration of large RPAs.

The amendments also reinforce the CAAP’s authority to validate foreign RPAS Controller Certificate, License or Authorization and introduce regulations on general RPA operations and RPA restricted areas of operation for non-commercial drones.

Included in the regulations on drones used for non-commercial purposes are: the requirement for persons to obtain an RPA Controller Certificate and a Certificate of Registration for the RPA before operating a large drone; the limitation of non-commercial operations to Visual Line of Sight or VLOS; and the prohibition of non-commercial operations at night unless authorized by the CAAP.

The amendments also set a validity period of five years for the RPA Controller Certificate and three years for the RPAS Operator Certificate. Existing regulations do not set a period of validity and specifies that the certificates are valid unless cancelled by the CAAP.

With restrictions on flying drones over populated areas, memorandum Circular 29-15 requires persons or entities planning to conduct RPA flying displays or air shows to obtain CAAP authorization.

Besides populated areas, the existing drone regulations explicitly prohibits flying them over restricted areas such as airports; no-fly zones such as military training camps; and over Malacañang Palace.

Persons who violate the prohibitions face fines from P300,000 to P500,000 per unauthorized flight depending on the gravity of the violation.

“It is not our wish to have a big number of confiscations, but rather, our goal as a regulator is to enhance awareness for the users (of RPA’s) and help them adhere to the standards, in order to minimize confiscations and safety risks.” the CAAP chief noted.

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