Agencies Responsible for regulating drones in Jamaica
UAS Laws – General rules for flying drones in Jamaica
The Jamaican agency responsible for drone safety, JCAA, has provided several internet-accessible details on flying for fun or work. The highlights are enumerated below. For more details, go to the link above.
Are drones legal in Jamaica?
According to JCAA, drone use is allowed in Jamaica, subject to JCAA regulations. Read on for more details.
Here are the most important rules to know for flying a drone in Jamaica:
JCAA issues guidelines to two categories of operators:
- Recreational UAV operators or Hobbyists – i.e. persons who operate model aircraft or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for recreational purposes (see Hobbyist section below for specific guidelines).
- Professional (commercial & non-commercial) operators – i.e. persons or companies which operate Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for non-recreational purposes, including business-related activities such as, but not limited to, aerial photography, surveillance, geometric surveys, power line inspections, crop observations
and research and development (see Commercial section below for specific guidelines).
Flights must be conducted:
- within the operator’s visual line of sight (VLOS)
- clear of all visual obstructions, including clouds, buildings, hills, etc.
- without a first-person view device
- safely and without recklessness
- at safe distances away from all obstacles
Notes for recreational drone pilots flying for fun in Jamaica
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles shall not be operated:
- at a height exceeding 400 feet (122 meters) above ground level
- beyond a maximum range of 1640 feet (500 meters)
- at a distance beyond the unaided visual range of the operator(s) of the aircraft
- using a First Person View (FPV) or computer-aided visual of the UAV
- over or within 500 feet (152 meters) of an organized open-air assembly of people
- over or within 165 feet (50 meters) of any person. However, during take-off and landing, the aircraft may be flown within 165 feet (50 meters), but no less than 100 feet (30 meters) of any person. These stipulations do not apply to the person in control of the aircraft
- over a private or public property or dwelling, without prior permission
- within 16,500 feet (5,000 meters) of any aerodrome or rotorcraft designated landing zones, such as helipads
- if not equipped with fail-safe mechanisms that will cause the aircraft to land in the event of a loss of radio control communications and the person in charge of the aircraft has been satisfied that the mechanisms are in good working order before flight
- if the aircraft has not been verified as being able to complete its intended flight, taking into consideration the payload, wind, and propulsive power availability for the duration of the flight
- autonomously or on pre-programmed automatic flights
- at night or during low visibility conditions
- to drop or discharge any items to the ground
- within or over restricted or prohibited airspace.
Notes for Commercial Drone Services operations in Jamaica
The JCAA considers the following in a Professional Category akin to Commercial Use elsewhere.
- Professional (commercial & non-commercial) operators – i.e., persons or companies which operate Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for non-recreational purposes, including business-related activities such as, but not limited to, aerial photography, surveillance, geometric surveys, power line inspections, crop observations
and research and development.
All professional operators must apply to the JCAA for a Special Aerial Work Permit before each flight.
All Drone operators in this category must:
- apply to the JCAA in writing for approval, providing all details of the intended operation
- not fly the aircraft unless written permission has been received from the Authority, stating any applicable restrictions or conditions.Having received approval, the professional operator must observe and comply with all the conditions included in the permit to exercise the authority provided to operate a UAV.
Note: Applications for restricted airspace require a minimum of one month’s notice as approvals are required from the specific airspace managers.
Useful published information on flying drones in Jamaica
Here is a sample of what you might expect if you follow the drone laws and fly in Jamaica…
NOTE: Small Unmanned Aerial Systems (SUAS), Small UAS, Remote Piloted Aerial Systems (RPAS), unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), Unmanned Aerial System (UAS), and drone are interchangeable terms unless specified. Model aircraft, toy aircraft, Remote controlled aircraft, and RC aircraft may be covered by the same regulations unless specified.
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