Story published on Business Daily By KIARIE NJOROGE
Posted Thursday, March 31 2016 at 20:45
The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) has for the first time issued rules guiding the use of drones with the regulations limiting civilians to flying them at a height of 400 feet.
Operators for commercial purposes will have their maximum allowable height determined by KCAA.
The release paves the way for increased use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) which is currently highly restricted over security concerns and lack of rules.
“A person shall not operate a RPAS (remotely piloted aircraft system) under private and recreational or sports category above 400 feet above ground level,” the regulations say.
The KCAA is seeking stakeholder input in debating the draft before gazettement, which will pave the way for entities like Ol Pejeta Conservancy to deploy drones to fight poaching. The conservancy was in 2014 denied the use of drones on security concerns.
READ: Defence ministry to regulate use of drones on safety fears
The laws will also make it easier for filmmakers and media houses to use the UAVs to enrich their filming.
Kenya recently bought drones from the US to add to the arsenal against Somalia-based Al Shabaab terrorists and the new regulations also set down the rules for flying UAVs beyond Kenyan borders.
The KCAA classifies drones by weight and use. Those of five kilogrammes and below, five-25 kilogrammes and those above 25 kilogrammes.
Under use, drones are classified as those for sports and recreation, those for private use excluding sports and recreation and commercial activities.
Owners of recreation and sports drones will have to be members of clubs registered by the aviation agency. All drone owners will have to take out minimum third party insurance with the KCAA saying it will determine the minimum insurance levels.
The authority further indicates that failure to follow all the rules will attract a maximum of Sh500,000 in fines or a jail term of not more than three months.
Drone owners are only allowed to fly them when there is sufficient visibility with night operations banned, the draft rules say.
Commercial drone owners will be required to have security clearance by the Ministry of Defence and have trained pilots. Those operating drones will have to register them afresh by May 31.