Starting today, persons who operate drones and other Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) weighing more than 7 kg will have to apply to the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) for permission to fly them.
“No person shall operate an unmanned aerial vehicle in the Guyana airspace without having first received written permission from the Civil Aviation Authority, unless such a vehicle is operating in accordance with Paragraph 13” of the new rules, a full page notice, in yesterday’s Sunday Stabroek, from the GCAA stated to owners and operators of unmanned and aerial vehicles (UAVs).
Paragraph thirteen of the new rules reads: “A person operating an unmanned aerial vehicle, weighing seven (7) kg or less, which is not being used for aerial work or any other commercial activity, and is not carrying any equipment capable of transmitting or receiving any information other than that required to control the vehicle in flight:
- a) Shall not be required to obtain a permit to operate the vehicle, but shall comply with all other restrictions and limitations of these regulations; and
- b) Shall not operate the vehicle beyond the visual range of the operator.
The GCAA had last year informed that it was working on regulations for drone flights following complaints by the Guyana Defence Force that one of its helicopters was buzzed by a drone in the vicinity of Thomas Lands, as it was returning to Base Camp Ayanganna in Georgetown.
The GDF said that although a serious accident was averted, the drone continued to follow the chopper. The army had also noted, with concern, the frequency of drones being flown in Georgetown, as well as other parts of the country, and it warned that the devices can cause serious, if not fatal, accidents, especially when they are being operated in the airspace allocated to low-flying aircraft.
The Agency’s head at that time, Chaitrani Heeralall, had urged drone users to be cautious and of the need to be aware of the instrument’s potential hazards when flying in certain zones.
She had pointed out that Guyana at the time, like many other countries, did not have regulations for governing the uses of drones and recreational flying instruments not manned but was looking at models used in the Caribbean to craft one for possible legislation.
The GCAA Directive said that the pilot in command of a UAV shall not fly the craft:
- a) Within an aerodrome traffic zone unless the permission of the GCAA and the applicable air traffic control unit is obtained:
- b) At a height of more than 150 metres above the terrain;
- c) At a distance greater than 500 metres from the point at which he is positioned;
- d) At night or in low visibility conditions:
- e) Over or near to private or public property without prior permission from the owner;
- f) In a reckless or unsafe manner:
- g) Over any establishment or zone designated in a government notice as a prohibited area.
And using drones or any other UAVs for recording or transmitting information without the permission of the authority would be in breach of the regulations stated.
To do this, a person would have to submit a request to the GCAA informing of the area and the purpose of the usage. Proof of liability insurance, pursuant to the GCAA regulations would also have to be submitted.