New Rules In The UAE Could Ground Your Drone

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The UAE will stop importing drones that fail to follow specifications set by the Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology (ESMA).

In May this year, the ESMA approved fresh regulatory standards that included a surveillance system for detecting unmanned aerial vehicles.

The standards will come into effect from mid-September following which all drones will need to have a unique serial number, said Essa Al Hashmi, director of the Conformity Department at the Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology (ESMA).

Drones that don’t meet the specifications will be allowed to enter the country, Al Hashmi said.

Under the standards, there will be no video or voice recording facility for leisure and commercial drones, while a system to track their geographical location will be required, he said.

Drones will not be allowed … in the market unless they have a certificate of adherence to specifications released by stakeholders such as the UAE Ministry Interior, Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, and the General Civil Aviation Authority, according to Al Hashmi.

However, drones for research and development as well as security purposes will be exempted.

Drones currently available for sale in UAE shops will have time until early next year to conform to the standards, he said.

Whatever is currently in the market will be allowed to be sold up to the beginning of 2018, but thereafter it will have to go back to the manufacturer for certification, Al Hashmi said.

The Federal Safety Law will be applicable in the case of any injury or accident with fines going up to Dhs3 million, he said.

In March, Dubai government said drones that are not registered will now attract a fine of up to Dhs20,000 ($5,445).

Fees and fines of between Dhs2,000 and Dhs20,000 will be applied for non-registered drone use for commercial activities and Dhs1,000 to Dhs20,000 for other activities.

The move followed a series of incidents involving drones at Dubai International Airport recently, resulting in flight delays, diversions and heavy costs for airlines.

UAE’s airspace is congested as it has two of the busiest airports in the world. The increasing presence of drones has been raising safety and security risks.

In September last year, Dubai International Airport suffered an airspace closure due to unauthorized drone activity, the second such disruption within four months.

A month before that, Dubai Civil Aviation Authority introduced no-fly zones for drones earlier this year following a similar incident in 2015, which includes airports and other locations deemed sensitive by the authority.

In April 2016, GCAA said that all drone users need to apply for registration cards. Additionally, it established four drone no-fly zones and nine areas requiring registration across Dubai.

Registration costs Dhs50 for leisure users and Dhs500 for commercial operators and will be accepted and processed within 72 hours.

The UAE banned the use of recreational drones in certain locations in March 2015, and also barred them from flying higher than 90 meters.

In the UAE, drones are used for mapping, security surveillance, wildlife surveys as well as for environmental, transport, agricultural and maritime purposes.