Operators of civilian Remote Pilot Aircrafts, commonly known as drones, shall be liable to conviction or a fine of up to K1million for flouting regulations if a proposal by the Department of Civil Aviation is approved.

President of Films Association of Malawi, one of the industries that use drones, Ezaus Mkandawire, has welcomed the regulations, saying they will bring sanity in the use of the new technology.

“I would not want a situation where one flies a drone in a market square, school, hospital or intruding on one’s privacy, for example. That should be regulated.

“However, it must also be noted therefore that government put in place measures to ensure that people’s use of drone is protected. The regulations should not be too harsh to operators,” Mkandawire said.

Chief Flight Operations Inspector at the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) Hastings Jailosi told Zodiak that the regulations once approved will help to separate drones from the regular air transport system.

“When you fly a drone which costs about US$1, 000 into an engine of a million dollar aircraft, the damage is too much.

“What we want to do now is that commercial drone users should know which areas to fly or not so that we can separate them from regular air transport in Malawi so that our airspace could be safe,” Jailosi said.

Malawi has recently seen a boom in the use of civilian drones, mainly operated to spice up aerial photography and videography for weddings and music videos, among other events.

The drones are also being used for humanitarian, science, and agricultural purposes, for example in ministry of health where HIV testing samples are moved from remote hospitals to referral facilities.

If passed into law, a person operating a drone without authorization commits an offence and shall be liable upon conviction, to a fine of up to K1 million or imprisonment of up to six months or both.

For a person to operate a drone the draft mandates that there shall be in force an adequate insurance policy in respect of third party; otherwise they are not eligible to operate one.

Source: Zodiak Broadcasting Station

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