The Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) has come up with standards and practices to regulate the operations of remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS), popularly referred to as drones, with effect from September this year. This means owners and users of drones, as well as those who wish to acquire them, need to officially apply to the GCAA to secure approval before they can use or acquire them.
The Director-General of the GCAA, Mr Simon Allotey, made this known at a day’s workshop in Accra to explain the processes and procedures one had to go through before operating drones. The stakeholders, mainly airline operators, ground handlers, tourism industry players, airport officials and the media, were taken through the registration, licensing and the legal regime that govern the aviation industry in Ghana. The participants were also given the opportunity to ask questions that bordered on the industry, particularly drone operations.
The new directive to regulate the operations of drones is meant to supplement the provisions of the Ghana Civil Aviation Safety Regulations, 2011, Legislative Instrument (LI) 2000.
Additionally, the directive is in line with the Convention on International Civil Aviation (Chicago Convention, 1994), which regulates the operation of all aircraft, including RPAS.
Mr Allotey said the development had also been necessitated by the fact that there was the need for safe air navigation.
Even though the operation of drones is now seen at most places in the country, the GCAA has no statistics on the number of the RPAS in the country currently.
Mr Allotey stated that there was the need for individuals and commercial operators to register with the authority for easy regulation.
“Per the new guidelines, a person will not be obliged to act as an RPA observer without having in his or her possession proof of RPA observer competency issued by a training organisation approved by the authority.
“No person shall be allowed to operate or import drones into the country without our approval,” he stressed.
He said the registration would enable the authority to be able to compile the number of drones in the country, noting that plans were underway to put operators into an association in the long term.
For those who already owned the equipment, Mr Allotey said, they would be required to supply the authority with relevant information for registration.
He was, however, quick to add that there was the need for constant education on the need for registration and licensing of the operations of drones in the country by the GCAA, adding that drones had come to stay.
In a presentation, the Director of Legal, International Relations and Corporate Communications of the GCAA, Mrs Joyce Anakwa Thompson, said for anyone to operate drones in the country, the individual must have basic knowledge of the equipment.
She indicated that since Ghana was a signatory to the Chicago Convention, there was the need for the nation to apply the law to the letter.
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