Drone Laws in South Africa

Agencies Responsible for regulating drones in the Republic of South Africa

South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA)


UAS Laws – General rules for flying drones in South Africa

The South African agency responsible for drone safety, SACAA, 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 allowed in South Africa?

According to the SACAA, flying drones is legal in South Africa, but certain regulations must be strictly followed. Read on for more details.

Here are the most important rules to know for flying a drone in South Africa:

For private use – 

(a)   The RPAS may only be used for an individual’s personal and private purposes where there is no commercial outcome, interest, or gain;

(b)   The pilot must observe all statutory requirements relating to liability, privacy, and any other laws enforceable by any other authorities.

For all other use –

(a) an RPA must be registered and may only be operated in terms of Part 101 of the South African Civil Aviation Regulations.

Do:

  • Fly/operate Remotely Piloted Aircraft, or toy aircraft in a safe manner, at all times.
  • Remotely Piloted Aircraft or toy aircraft should remain within the visual line of sight at all times.
  • Fly/operate RPA in daylight and clear weather conditions.
  • Inspect your aircraft before each flight.

The Don’ts 

DO NOT, through act or omission, endanger the safety of another aircraft or person therein or any person or property through negligent flying/operation of Remotely Piloted Aircraft, or toy aircraft. 

Do not fly/operate Remotely Piloted Aircraft, or toy aircraft 50 m 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 approved by the SACAA, DO NOT fly/operate Remotely Piloted Aircraft or toy aircraft:

  1. Near manned aircraft
  2. 10 km or closer to an aerodrome (airport, helipad, airfield)
  3.  Weighing more than 7 kg  
  4. In controlled airspace
  5. In restricted airspace
  6. In prohibited airspace.

Do not fly/operate Remotely Piloted Aircraft, or toy aircraft higher than 150 ft from the ground, unless approved by the Director of Civil Aviation of the SACAA.

Registration Requirements for Drone Flying in South Africa?

In accordance with Part 101.02.4(1) of the Civil Aviation Regulations, 2011, No remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) shall be operated within the Republic of South Africa, unless such RPA has been issued with a certificate of registration by the Director. 

How to register RPA 

Applicant should fill the following form, depending on the intent:  

  • Form CA-47R1 – application for new registration of the RPA. 
  • Form CA-47R2 – for change of ownership. 
  • Form CA-47R3 – for deletion due to accident or export. 
  •  Form CA-47R4 – amendment of C of R due to change of company name, change of address, or change of manufacturer’s name. 
  • Form CA-47R5 – for duplicate C of R as a result of being lost, stolen, damaged or destroyed. 

These forms may be obtained from the Airworthiness Forms page of the website.


Notes for recreational drone pilots flying for fun in South Africa

Private operation – means the use of an RPA for an individual’s personal and private purposes where there is no commercial outcome, interest or gain; 

Restricted visual line-of-sight* – means an operation within 500 m of the remote pilot and below the height of the highest obstacle within 300 m of the RPA, which the remote pilot maintains direct unaided visual contact with the RPA to manage its flight and meet separation and collision avoidance responsibilities;  

  1. It is the full responsibility of the remote pilot of the RPAS to fly his/her aircraft safely and not endanger the safety of another aircraft, any person, or property.
  2. The remote pilot must observe all statutory requirements relating to liability, privacy, and any other laws enforceable by any other authorities. 

1.      Private operations of RPAS shall be conducted:

  • only in R-VLOS
  • with a Class 1A or 1B RPA (mass < 7 kg, Impact energy* < 15 kJ) 

2.      Do not fly RPA: 

  • Near manned aircraft
  • 10 km or closer to an aerodrome (airport, helipad, or airfield)
  • In controlled, restricted, or prohibited

3.      Do not fly RPA 50m or closer from: 

  • Any person or group of persons (like sports fields, road races, stadiums, schools, social events, etc.)
  • Public road
  • Any property without permission from the property owner 

4.    Only fly RPA in daylight and clear weather conditions

Follow the general rules listed above, but check for updates by visiting the regulator’s links provided.


Notes for operating Commercial Drone Services in South Africa

Authorization and licensing is a complex process. Please check with the SACAA directly for specifics.


Useful published information on flying drones in South Africa

Here is a sample of what you might expect if you follow the drone laws and fly in South Africa…

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.


Traveling with a Drone?

Click here to read our Comprehensive Guide For Traveling With A Drone



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IMPORTANT NOTE

The content on this site is collated by volunteers from public general information. This material is not presented as legal advice of any kind, and we cannot guarantee that the information is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. Do not substitute the information you find here for legal advice from a licensed attorney who is authorized to practice in the jurisdiction. When in doubt, contact the local aviation authority responsible for drone safety, utilize a licensed drone service operator, and/or consult a qualified attorney.

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2 thoughts on “Drone Laws in South Africa”

    • Tauriq, a sensor (camera/infrared camera, etc.) are standard allowed payloads. We assume you are thinking of delivery or other kinds of payload in which case this will be a commercial application. You will need to contact SACAA (follow the link at the top of the page for contact details).

      Reply

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