Licence To Fly A Drone In South Africa

By | February 27, 2020

Remotely-piloted aircraft systems or Drones have been part of us lately and there has been the good and side which has called for the regulation of how drones are used. Drones are used privately or commercially.

One do not need a licence to own or use a drone privately in South Africa but has to follow some rules.

Aerodromes – Not allowed to fly 10km within airport, Helipad or Airstrip.

Weather Conditions – Operate RPAS in daylight and clear weather conditions.

Intoxication – Do not operate RPAS while intoxicated.

Class of RPA – Class 1A or 1B (Mass <7KG)

RPA Vicinity – Do not operate within 50m or closer to any person, property or public road.

For commercial use of drones in South Africa, you’ll need to register your drone with the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) and provide documents like an operations manual before you can use your aircraft to make money.

The first thing anyone who wants to fly a drone will need to do, however, is acquiring a Remote Pilots Licence (RPL).

How to Get A Remote Pilots Licence (RPL)

ProWings is the first South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA)-approved RPL training school in South Africa and, for a fee, they’ll help you get a licence.

Drone licence pre-requisites

  • You must be 18 years or older
  • English Language Proficiency
  • Owning a drone is not required
  • Past experience with drones or flying of any kind is not required
  • Class 4 Medicals

To make sure a pilot is physically able, a medical examination is needed. This includes an “Aviation medical” as well as a chest x-ray. Both of these can be done through ProWings for an additional fee, or through a SACAA-approved doctor. Once this has been passed, a medical certificate will be awarded.

  • Radio Telephony Licence (Restricted)

This is a separate licence that is comprised of up to three exams: Visual Line Of Sight (VLOS), Extended Visual Line Of Sight (EVLOS) and Beyond Visual Line Of Sight (BVLOS). These three relate to your ability to actually see the drone you are piloting. VLOS and EVLOS deal with seeing the drone with the naked eye and involve written exams. BVLOS applies to operating drone out of your view and is achieved with an online exam. Note, however, that the BVLOS requires a special permission from the SACAA director.

Only one of the three is required for the drone licence, and will dictate how you can operate your drone. The price for all three is included at the bottom of the page.

Like the medical, these can be done through SACAA-approved channels at exam centres, or ProWings themselves.

Drone Training Courses

For beginners (that is, non-accredited pilots) the theory course is a full-time two-week course.

Accredited pilots are those who hold the following licence(s): Private Pilot Licence (PPL), National Pilot Licence (NPL) and Commercial Pilots Licence (CPL). Accredited pilots only need to attend the second week.

The two weeks of theory are comprised of:

DurationNon- accredited pilotsAccredited Pilots
Week 1Air LawHuman PerformanceMeteorologyNavigationNo attendance as these subjects have already been covered
Week 2Principles of FlightOperational ProceduresFlight Performance Planning and LoadingRemotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) General KnowledgeRPAS Regulations and Technical Standards (CAR101 and CATS101)Theoretical and Practical Assessment

Practical exam

After the theory course has been completed, a practical needs to be completed.

These exams are broken down into “ratings”:

  • Fixed-Wing
  • Multi-Rotor
  • Helicopter

Language proficiency exam

This is only required if you did not complete matric (or equivalent) with English as a first language subject.

Like the medical exam, this can be done through ProWings or through an SACAA-approved examiner.

An application form is created from the above and submitted to the SACAA

The Student Files will be put together by both ProWings and the person applying to be a licence. An application will be accompanied by

  • Two passport photos
  • Radio Telephony Licence
  • Certified copy of SA identity document
  • Medical certificate
  • Language proficiency (if applicable)
  • Proof of payment to SACAA (of R500)

Licence is awarded (or not)

After submitting theaccplication form to the SACAA, it will decide whether or not to issue a RPL

The SACAA’s turnaround time for a decision varies.

Once the decision is made, they will either contact you with details in claiming the licence or a denial.

In the case of a denial, though, the SACAA will indicate why. Once this problem has been resolved in the Student File, it can be resubmitted, but another R500 application fee will be due.

What it all costs

  • Two-week theory course: R26 250
  • One-week theory course (for accredited pilots): R13 125
  • Radio Telephony Licence: R900
  • Online exam for the above: R260
  • Aviation medical: R1 200
  • Chest X-ray: R600
  • Language Proficiency (where applicable) : R900
  • Designated Flight Examiner (DFE) check-out fee per single type Aircraft: R850
  • RPL application fee (payable to the SACAA): R500

Total estimated cost : R44 575

Licence validity

A Licence is valid for 24 months.

Application for renewal process should be done two months prior to the expiry date.

Revalidation certificate lasts 36 months thereafter.

The licence is only applicable in South Africa.

Source : htxt