Last week I purchased a Parrot A.R Drone 2.0 to fly and video various elements of agriculture and examine the way it can improve productivity and investigate the all-round usefulness of the technology for farmers. This prompted speculation and curiosity into Drone, quadcopter, RPA (remotely piloted aircraft) or UAVs (Un-manned aerial vehicles) policy and regulation in the Asian Pacific region, and develop an expertise to conduct a project that aims to advocate responsible drone flying using countries in Asia as examples. I got my own basic pamphlet within the box detailing the rules here in Australia to which I’d like to contrast with that in Asian countries and then explore why this could be the case. Current Australian Regulation according to UAV international looks like this:
General Australian Drone Laws:
- You may NOT fly your drone closer than 30 meters to vehicles, boats or buildings that are on private property or you must have explicit permission from the private property owner.
- You may NOT fly your drone over populated areas such as beaches, other people’s backyards, heavily populated parks or sports areas where games are currently in session.
- You may NOT operate your drone within 5.5 Km radius of any aerodrome, airfield, airport, seaplane taking off or landing, or helicopter landing sites located at hospitals, police stations or other locations. It is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to be aware of your surroundings and ignorance is no defence.
- You may ONLY operate your drone during daylight.
- You MUST ONLY operate your drone in good weather conditions and maintain visual contact with your UAV at all times.
- You may NOT fly your drone above 400 feet (123 meters).
- UAV must NOT drop or discharge an object from your drone that poses a risk to another aircraft, persons or property.
- Approval is required for operation of a drone weighing 150 Kilograms (fixed wing) or 100 Kilograms (rotary wing).
- A drone must NOT be operated within 30 meters of a person not directly associated with the operation of that UAV.
- You may NOT operate a drone using FPV equipment.
Regulation in regards to the use of drones in Asia varies from country to country, from completely outlawed to slowly adapting the popularity and changing aerospace laws to suit consumer needs.
Recently Singapore have got on board with regulating the use of UAVs (drones) in their city-state by introducing an online portal system that allows individuals do go online and fill out the necessary documentation so they may fly their drones. “According to the CAAS website, two permits – an operator permit and an activity permit – are required for flying drones that weigh more than 7 kilograms (15.4 pounds) for any purpose. Those who fly drones for business purposes will need both permits regardless of the weight of the aircraft. In contrast, those who do so for recreation or research do not require a permit if the weight of the aircraft is less than 7kg. If drones are flown indoors at a private residence or indoor area and the flying does not affect the general public at all, no permits are required.” (The Diplomat, 2015).
It also states that additional permits must be acquired if the craft that is being flown has potential to drop items, if they are to be flown over protected or populated areas and events and taking photos, such as military bases, the Istana, Parliament House, Supreme Court and other government buildings.
China are currently reviewing extensively their drone regulations and have a general set of policies in place to cover basic drone flying in accordance with the CAAC (Civil Aviation Administration of China). They are as follows according to UAV Systems International:
General China Drone Laws:
- Drone Less than 7Kg? OK for Operation
- Drone 7Kg – 116Kg? Licence from CAAC required
- >116Kg? Pilots licence and UAV certification required for operation
- Drone flights in controlled areas require approval in advance
- Approval from CAAC is needed for all commercial drone flights
Japan being the innovative technological country I’ve come to know and love, I assumed it would lead the way in its regulation to try and emerge this technology. It did take off in its beginning in the country with legislation giving it every opportunity to be prevalent in the country, quickly. However, a drone carrying radioactive substances landed on government building with the prime minister located inside, and since the policies have become increasingly stronger as It is now illegal to fly drones in public parks. Thus, according to UAV systems international
General Japan Drone Laws:
- You must fly your drone below 150 meters
- You must fly your drone at least 9Km away from airports
- You must not fly your drone over crowds
- You must stay away from all power lines
- In accordance with the road transport law you are not allowed to fly your drone over any roads
- In accordance with the land property law you are not allowed to fly over any property without permission from the owner
- Osaka has banned drone use in all parks within the city limits
Thailand is as strict as it comes when it comes to regulation in the Asian pacific region, with a solid ban on all drone quadcopters fitted with a camera device. Thus according to ThaiVisa.com, ” The flying of drones fitted with cameras will not be allowed by members of the general public. Anyone wanting to fly a drone in Thailand will also need have to seek permission from the Transport Ministry.”
However, only business’s that have a permit and require aerial photography will be permitted to fly drones with cameras attached. Bangkok has prohibited such flying over military bases, palaces and parks in the city.
According to Korean transportation ministry the number of illegal drone incidents from 10 cases from 2012 to 49 last year, due to people not being aware of drone laws. These regulations are for all drones commercial and personal use regardless of size.
The following rules apply:
- No flying at night (So between sunset and sunrise)
- No flying near an airfield (within 9.3km)
- No flying over a crowded area/ venue (sports stadium, concert)
- No flying in restricted area (DRZ) for military reasons – Government permission required
- No flying higher than 150 metres
- No dumping materials from the drone
- No drinking alcohol while flying drone
- The drone must be visable from the naked eye whilst flying