The Commercial Unmanned Aircraft Association of Southern Africa (CUAASA) has called on SA’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to treat all licence applicants fairly.

In a statement, it noted that drones (or Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems) could be used for a number of things such as scanning mining stockpiles, investigate crop health and monitor erosion – and even package deliveries.

But according to CUAASA, CAA interprets the amendments to the law in a different manner, and will “subject drone license applicants to the same rigorous process as commercial freight and passenger airlines at the Air Services Licensing Council.”

CUAASA President Hennie Kiesser explained that it was akin to subjecting a model boat to a warship review, and “is untenable and unreasonable.”

The Association also accused CAA of being unwilling to allow for a clause that would automatically grant a drone operating licence to pilots with many years of experience.

“That is not say that licensing must be a ‘free for all’. Technical standards and testing for RPAS pilots are essential. The immediate problem however is that no such standards exist and, as a consequence, no pilots will be able to apply to fly RPAS when the Amendment comes into affect on 1st July,” it said.

With those concerns in mind, CUAASA has called on the Minister of Transport Dipuo Peters to exclude RPAS from Air Services Licensing Council certification, recognise existing, skilled RPAS pilots and publish a framework for the technical standards and testing that RPAS pilots must meet in order to be licensed

“Failure to make these changes will not only ground RPAS for years to come – it will ground the delivery they can undertake and the jobs they will certainly create,” Kiesser said.

[Image – CC by 2.0/Lee]

Charlie started his professional life as a motoring journalist for a community newspaper in Mpumalanga, Charlie explored different journalistic angles since his entry into the fast-paced world of publishing in 2006. While fostering a passion for the arts, Charlie developed a love for technology – both which allowed him to serve as Entertainment and Technology Editor for an online publication. Charlie has since been heavily involved in consumer technology for various websites and publications. He thoroughly enjoys World War II films and cerebral documentaries; aviation; photography and indie music. Oh yes, and he also has a rather strange obsession with collecting coffee mugs from his travels.