Commercial Drones: How to Not Fly in the Face of Risk

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So, you’ve forked out thousands to get your company up-to-date or make operations easier with the latest commercial drone, featuring all the bells and whistles. Insuring this prize equipment is obviously a no brainer, but what do you need to do to protect yourself in case something goes ‘south’ and you need to make a claim? 

It follows, that with technological improvements prompting the affordability of drones, more interesting and exciting applications are starting to emerge (anti-poaching and search and rescue are among some of the more interesting uses). But, with these new applications and more powerful models, comes increased risk, such as collision with other aircraft or people, damage to property and legal liability for breaking laws such as privacy by-laws and other laws enforceable by other authorities. 

It goes without saying that commercial drone owners need to use their equipment responsibly and follow the rules and regulations set by the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA), whose mission is to regulates civil aviation safety and security. But aside from registering your drone with SACAA (in terms of part 101 of the SACAA regulations) and acquiring a professional pilots license with them to operate it, what do you need to do to ensure that you’re safe in the sky and that you’re financially protected? 

We hone in on a few helpful guidelines from the SACAA to help you better manage your risk and claim successfully if the need ever arises. 

The Big No’s: 

Don’t fly your drone 50m or closer from: 

1.Any person or group of persons (like sports field, road races, schools, social events, etc.) 

2.Any property without permission from the property owner. 

Unless you have permission from the SACAA, don’t operate a commercial drone: 

  1. Near manned aircraft 
  1. 10km or closer to an aero dome (airport, helipad, airfield) 
  1. Weighing more than 7kg 
  1. In controlled airspace 
  1. In restricted airspace 
  1. In prohibited airspace 

Do not operate a commercial drone higher than 45 metres from the ground, unless approved by the Director of Civil Aviation of the SACAA. 

What You Should Be Doing: 

At all times, you should ensure: 

  1. You fly in a safe manner. 
  1. Your drone remains within the pilot’s visual line of sight. 
  1. You drone is operated in daylight and in clear weather conditions. 
  1. You inspect your drone before each flight. 
  1. You perform regular maintenance. 

Want to enquire about drone insurance with us? Please note that CC&A cover is comprehensive only when piloted by professional pilots, licensed by the South African Civil Aviation Authority, and don’t forget that ground support equipment (air vehicle launchers, pilot controllers and tactical kits) should be covered as well. 

For more information on what we cover when it comes to commercial drones, take a look at our UAV/Drone insurance page, and for a more in-depth look at do’s and don’ts of piloting your drone, check out this helpful pdf. Happy flying!