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Dubai international centre for drone

Dubai is on track to becoming an international centre for drone manufacturing, smart transport, and innovation in air transport.

According to the United Arab Emirates’ national aviation authority, the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), flying a drone is legal in the United Arab Emirates, but we recommend being aware of and compliant with the drone regulations.

Those are the most important rules to know for flying a drone in the United Arab Emirates.

If the drones fly for fun:

  • The user and the drone must be registered with the GCAA before flying. Register here.
  • All drones weighing 5 kilograms (11 pounds) or less shall only be allowed to fly in the approved flying zone (i.e the green zone).
  • No video or image capturing devices shall be used when flying the drone (Drone pilots with an Emirates Id that is registered with the GCAA can shoot videos and take photographs using drones in locations permitted and at heights specified by the local authorities. Use the UAE My Drone Hub app, available in the Android and iTunes app store, to determine where you may and may not take photos or record video with a drone.).
  • No drones shall be equipped with drop or release devices;
  • Drones’ flying range shall be within line-of-sight and not more than 122 meters (400 feet) above ground level.
  • Drones shall fly only during daytime and in good weather conditions;
  • Drones shall not be flown near public and/or private property.
  • Drones shall now be flown within 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) of UAE airports outer fence, Heliports, Helicopter landing Sites, and airfields or in controlled zones.
  • Direct radio control link shall be maintained between the drone pilot and the drone while in flight.
  • Drones pilots shall avoid collisions with people, objects, other manned and unmanned aircraft.
  • Drones user shall not harass or endanger people or threaten to damage property.
  • Drone pilots are responsible for informing the GCAA through the GCAA website when they intend to resell their drone(s).
  • If a drones accident or loss of control occurs the pilot must immediately report the incident/accident to the GCAA on hotline: +971506414667 and E-mail: aai@gcaa.gov.ae ;
  • The minimum age to fly drones weighing more than 25 kilograms (55 pounds) is 21 years.

If the drones fly for work:

  • Commercial drone operators must pass the UAS GCAA exam.
  • All Organizations/Operators who intend to operate drones in the UAE for commercial or special operations are required to hold a GCAA drone Registration Certificate. Special Operations include these types of uses: Aerial Work, Agriculture, Air Show, Fire fighting, Inspection, Media, Petroleum, Surveillance, Weather forecasting. Apply for a Registration Certificate here.
  • All Organizations/Operators holding a GCAA drone Registration Certificate are required to obtain operational approval before commencement of each flight. Apply for operational approval here.

In addition to the rules for RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aircraft System, also called drone) established by the GCAA above, anyone who wishes to fly a drone in Dubai must also follow the rules for RPAS established by the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA).

To fly a drone in Dubai, you must:

  • Register for an operator training certificate program endorsed by the DCAA to provide RPAS certifications. Sanad Academy and Exponent are two approved training providers.
  • Register your drone with the DCAA. The following documents are required at registration: Company name and address, company trade/commercial license, name and contact details of RPAS, operator’s Emirates ID, passport copy with visa page (non-national), passport size photo (white background), RPAS type/model, RPAS photo, RPAS serial number, operator training certificate, insurance, national ID for tourist, flight booking for tourist. Complete DCAA registration here. Apply as a tourist here.
  • Obtain a no objection certificate from DCAA. Apply here.
  • Avoid collisions with people, objects and other aircraft.
  • Do not harass or endanger people or threaten to damage property.
  • Do not operate your drone over congested areas or over public or private properties.
  • Do not operate your drone near, around, or over airports.
  • Do not fly in no-fly zones. Use the UAE Drone Fly Zone Map app, available in the Android and iTunes app store, to determine where you may and may not fly your drone.

Dubai aviation authorities on Sunday hailed the emirate’s new drone law, saying it will generate new global opportunities and business streams for the industry. They also revealed how key entities will help turn the law’s vision into reality – from drone deliveries to flying taxis.

The new law – which was issued by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, on Saturday – regulates the operations of drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). It takes the emirate a step closer to connecting its landmarks and buildings aerially, through the ‘Sky Dome’ project that will see the rise of mini airports and landing pads for drones.

Dubai Aviation City Corporation (DACC) and its affiliated corporations Dubai South and Dubai Aviation Engineering Projects (DAEP) will be playing a key role in creating  a supportive environment for businesses in the smart aviation sector.

For international drone companies planning to establish their businesses in the emirate, the infrastructure is already in place, with Dubai South boasting a unique aerospace platform called Mohammed Bin Rashid Aerospace Hub (MBRAH).

DAEP will play a vital role in realising the leadership’s vision for smart transportation and innovation by using drones to meet the needs of government entities.

DAEP, known for its experience in building the emirate’s aviation infrastructure, will design and supervise the construction of drone airports for the government’s use, including related facilities.

Alessandra Quarta Conte

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