Taking flight – the legalities of drone photography in South Africa

Posted by David Henning on 5 January 2022

The vantage point offered to photographers by drones is unrivalled, where you can capture amazing shots from the comfort of a remote. But as it turns out, the legalities around flying a drone are not black and white, and there are some limitations as to where and when you can fly in South Africa.

Taking Flight - The legalities of flying a drone in South Africa

The legal firm Wright Rose told BusinessTech that there are conditions when it comes to using a drone in South Africa.

‘The South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) through Part 101 of the Civil Aviation Regulations governs the use of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) such as drones,’ the firm said. ‘These amended regulations were introduced in 2015 and the regulations include the limitations for private drone use.’

According to SACAA, the basic drone flying rules people must adhere to are:

  • You may not fly a drone within 10km of an airport.
  • You may not fly nearer than 50 metres from people, buildings or roads.
  • You may not fly a drone higher than 120m (400 feet).
  • ‘Hobby’ drones must be flown in within the line of sight unless operated by the holder of an RPAS Operators Certificate (ROC);.
  • Drones may not be flown at night.

Once a person wishes to fly a drone for commercial purposes, such as photography, they must obtain a ROC. Wright Rose stated that ‘A ROC is issued by the SACAA and is valid for 12 months. The holder of a ROC is allowed, with permission from the director of the SACAA, to operate the drone at night or within the 50-meter distance from people or property

Regardless of the purpose of your drone, pilots should still avoid trespassing or invading the privacy of others, or taking footage without the necessary consent.

Picture:  Unsplash


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