Sheikh Mohammed’s new law to regulate all drone operations in Dubai
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Sheikh Mohammed’s new law to regulate all drone operations in Dubai

Sheikh Mohammed’s new law to regulate all drone operations in Dubai

The law will govern the creation of ‘drone airports’ and outlines the framework for permissions surrounding all drone activities too


Dubai has issued a new law governing drone activity across the emirate, including its free zones, on Saturday.

All drone-related operations will require a licence from the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA), the entity where anyone who possesses a drone should register it.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, issued the Law No. 04 of 2020 which outlines the responsibilities of relevant authorities within the emirate too.

The law seeks to help Dubai promote itself as a hub for drone manufacturing, smart transportation and innovation, and enable public and private entities to use drones and provide related services, reported official news agency WAM.

Accordingly, the DCAA will oversee the implementation of the law and will monitor and control drone activity, besides outlining the conditions and procedures for issuing permits and conducting trials.

The conditions for the use of drones include those related to government operations, commercial activity, scientific and research activities, leisure, or activities will be specified by the DCAA’s managing director who will list the permitted categories for drone operations in Dubai.

The DCAA may allow government agencies to use drones for security, rescue, firefighting, or surveillance among other public interest needs as well as for providing public services, control and inspection processes, data collection and statistics, ambulance services, firefighting, traffic monitoring, monitoring environmental, health, planning and construction compliance, infrastructure, ports, beaches, sea ports, air surveys, and search and rescue operations.

The authority is also tasked with identifying and approving the designated areas and heights within which these operations and trials of drones can be conducted.

The airspace and areas designated for drones will be determined by the director general of the DCAA. The Dubai Air Navigation Services is responsible for determining the air routes in which drones may fly.

Dubai Air Navigation Services will also provide information related to air traffic movement and meteorological updates to drone operators so that the drones can be operated safely.

Dubai Aviation Engineering Projects (DAEP) will specify standards and conditions for setting up ‘Drone Airports’ and present these to the DCAA for approval.

DAEP will also ensure that the design and plans of these ‘Drone Airports’ are in line with urban plans and transportation regulations in the emirate.

The law prohibits any person from establishing or operating airports for drones or making any modification on such facilities without obtaining a permit from the DCAA.

Dubai Police will manage all the security aspects of drone activity, in coordination with the DCAA and outline security measures to prevent the illegal use of drones and crimes committed using them, as well as measures to deal with the loss of control of drones, especially those flying outside their designated areas and not complying with regulations.

The DCAA, in coordination with the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), will determine the procedures for the use of radio frequencies for drones and their systems and remote-control stations.

A permit from the DCAA, issued in coordination with the DAEP, is also required for developing infrastructure for the operation of drones.

Additionally, a permit issued by the DCAA will also be required to supply drones with fuel or power. Prior to operating drones, its systems and airport strips, operators are required to obtain an operational safety certificate.

All individuals, other than authorised personnel, are prohibited from operating drones in controlled airspaces designated for civilian or military aircraft. However, the DCAA may allow select drone operations in controlled airspace in accordance with specific regulations, provided they do not affect civil aviation.

Legal action will be initiated against acts of unlawful interference which endanger the safety of civil aviation and air transport including the illegal seizure of drones, illegal control of their operating systems, installation of any weapon, device or dangerous substance or prohibited materials on drones.

Using recording, photography or remote sensing equipment to violate the freedom and privacy of others, as well as photographing facilities, buildings and restricted or prohibited areas without authorisation, and installing any equipment to collect information and data illegally, are strictly prohibited.

Penalties including imprisonment and/or fines, that can be applied to anyone who endangers the safety and security of the airspace, or designs, manufactures, assembles or modifies drones and its systems, and develops simulation and training systems, or imports or sells drones, parts or systems in the Emirate without permission from the DCAA.

Any individual causing damage due to drone operations shall be responsible for damage compensation and removal of the damage. In case of delay, the DCAA will remove the damage, in addition to charging the concerned entity responsible for the damage 20 per cent of the cost of removing the damage.

Anyone with a grievance may submit a written appeal to the director of the DCAA challenging the penalty within 30 days of the disputed violation. The issue will be reviewed within 30 days of its submission by a committee formed by the director general.

Military drones are exempt from this law. However, they too should coordinate with the DCAA to ensure they do not inadvertently interfere with civil aviation activities.

Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, president of the DCAA said that the new law will facilitate the ‘Dubai Sky Dome’ project that aims to transform Dubai into a virtual airspace infrastructure for unmanned aerial vehicles systems connecting places and buildings through runways and miniature airports across the emirate.

“Drone systems represent one of the most promising emerging technologies in the civil aviation and transport sector. The new law supports the implementation of the Authority’s ‘Dubai Sky Dome’ initiative, which seeks to build a structural eco-system for drones,” said Sheikh Ahmed.

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