UAE to regulate drone sales for sake of aviation safety
The United Arab Emirates will release new regulations governing the sales and use of drones as the country witnesses increasing problems integrating the new technology into its aerospace.
Concerns about aviation safety have prompted the oil state’s government to ban sales of drones in March to give the legislators time to prepare the new rules. Existing drone regulations, introduced in April 2015, control mostly commercial licenses for companies.
"Several incidents have happened and to integrate them (drones) safely into the commercial airspace is a challenge," said Mohammed Faisal al-Dossari, director of the air navigation & aerodromes department of the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA).
On 12 July this year, Dubai International Airport had to close for more than one hour due to unauthorised drone activity in the surrounding airspace. The incident cost the economy millions of dollars.
"The Emirates Authority for Standardisation & Metrology (Esma) is working on laws that will have a framework for the UAE for imports, sales and performance of drones," said al-Dossari, adding that the new guidelines will also address air-worthiness of heavier drones, standards for pilotless aircraft and pilot training.
UAE’s air airspace is extremely congested. The addition of drones therefore poses considerable safety and security risks.
The GCAA registers some 400 commercial drones that can be used in the country for various commercial applications such as mapping, security surveillance, wildlife and environment monitoring, as well as transport, agricultural and maritime purposes.
"The big question is how to integrate drones into commercial airspace in future," commented Michael Herrero, Gulf area manager at the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the global body of airlines.
"Governments need to put it high on the agenda with enforceable legislation."