Registering drones mandatory under new CAA rules

ISLAMABAD   -   The federal government has unveiled new rules as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as drones, would be registered under the new “Civil Unmanned Aircraft Rules, 2024”. The new rules prohibit people from registering more than three drones of a category during one calendar year while operators of categories II, III and IV will be required “Remote Pilot Licence”.

The Ministry of Defence has emphasized that drones are strictly prohibited from flying in restricted areas, including border zones and areas requiring special clearance.

As per the new rules, all drones will have to be registered with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Individuals already possessing UAVs will have to apply for registration of their drones within four months after the new rules come into effect. On the other hand, those acquiring drones after the new regulations are in place, will get 15 days to apply for the registration of their property. As registration applications required to mention the intended use of the unmanned aircraft, it shall be given a unique number consisting of alphabets and numerals.

Drones have been divided into four categories on the basis of their maximum take-off weight namely category-I (maximum take-off weight less than or equal to 250 grammes), category-II (more than 250g but less than or equal to 10 kilogrammes), category-III (more than 10kg but less than or equal to 25kg) and category-IV (more than 25kg but less than or equal to 100kg). Once the new rules come into effect, people will need CAA’s “Remote Pilot Licence” to operate drones which fall within categories II, III and IV. The minimum requirement for the aforesaid licence is that the applicant needs to be at least 18 years of age, has a qualified secondary school certificate or equivalent examination, has received training from an approved organisation in relation to the type of licence applied and has passed a test prescribed by the authority to determine his knowledge and skills in the operation of an unmanned aircraft.

With regards to the import and export of UAVs, a person will be required to first get themselves registered. Also, those intending to import category-III and IV drones will need clearance from the Ministry of Defence.

Moreover, violators of the new rules might face action, which also includes imposition of a fine up to Rs100,000 with the possibility of additional monetary penalty which may extend to Rs10,000 for every day during which such contravention continues.

The CAA will issue remote pilot licenses to drone camera owners, ensuring that operators are adequately trained and certified. The licenses for importing and exporting drone cameras will have a validity period of up to three years.

In the event of any accidents involving drones, it is mandatory to inform civil aviation authorities immediately. CAA inspectors will conduct regular inspections of drones to ensure compliance with safety and operational standards. Strict actions will be taken against drone owners who violate these regulations. Flying drones without proper clearance is now banned, and there is a prohibition on operating drones within a 6-kilometer radius of airports.

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