Commercial FAQ

1Could you describe the steps a person would have to take to get a drone licence (RPL) in South Africa?
Firstly it is compulsory that applicants be over 18 years of age, and have passed the following:
  • Class 4 Aviation Medical
  • English Language Proficiency
  • Restricted Radio Telephony Licence (Aeronautical), bear in mind that SACAA now no longer require an ‘online radio telephony test’ for VLOS and EVLOS. BVLOS is a rating that carries the burden of responsibility to be handled by the Director of Civil Aviation as it is only with the express permission of the Director that this rating can be permitted

There are 2 parts to getting your RPL:

1. Theory Training is ONLY 7 days!!! (Monday – Sunday)

A person holding an NPL, PPL or CPL, can however complete the course in as little as 3 Days!!!

AND

2. Practical Training

**UPON COMPLETION OF THE THEORY COURSE AND SUCCESSFUL PRACTICAL TRAINING AND ASSESMENT, THE CHIEF FLIGHT INSTRUCTOR (CFI) WILL WRITE A LETTER OF RECOMMENDATION TO THE DESIGNATED FLIGHT EXAMINER (DFE), RECOMMENDING THAT THE STUDENT BE CHECKED OUT.

AFTER A SUCCESSFUL CHECKOUT WITH THE DESIGNATED FLIGHT EXAMINER, PROWINGS TRAINING WILL ASSIST AND GUIDE THE STUDENTS WITH THE SUBMISSION OF THEIR RPL APPLICATION FORM TO THE SOUTH AFRICAN CIVIL AVIATION AUTHORITY (SACAA).

2Do you need any experience flying - drones or otherwise - to get a licence?
There are many people out there who have been flying drones for many years. However, it is not necessary to have any experience. We have people coming in at varying levels of experience namely:
  • Beginners learning to fly for the first time
  • Experienced operators. We are taking on experienced operators as a priority as some are using drones for their livelihoods (It is highly recommended that experienced operators take at least 1 practice session to understand the RPAS flying requirements).
3Do you need to have your own drone to get a licence?
No. However it would be beneficial to have your own drone for familiarisation and self practice.
4Where am I allowed to fly my drone and where am I not allowed to fly my drone?
No RPA shall be flown:
  • within a lateral distance of 50m from people, property or public roads
  • within a 10km radius of an airfield, airport or aerodrome
  • No higher than 400 feet above ground level
Unless explicit permission has been obtained from the Director of the SACAA and the landowners as the circumstances may dictate.
5Is the South African licence valid in any other countries or would it help someone get a licence in another country?
South Africa is a member state of ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation), and is currently the FIRST country to pass RPAS legislation CARs 101 and CATs 101. We are currently communicating with other member states to ascertain if they are willing to recognize South African issued RPL’s in their home countries
6Abbreviations
  • AIC- Aviation Information Circular
  • AIP- Aviation Information Publication
  • ATPL- Airline Transport Licence
  • BVLOS-Beyond Visual Line Of Sight
  • CARs 101- Civil Aviation Regulations
  • CATs 101- Civil Aviation Technical Standards
  • Checkout- Practical Exam/ Skills Test performed by DFE
  • CPL- Commercial Pilot Licence
  • DFE- Designated Flight Examiner
  • EVLOS- Extended Visual Line Of Sight
  • Fixed Wing- Drone that looks like a mini plane
  • Helicopter- Drone that looks like a mini helicopter
  • ICAO- International Civil Aviation Organisation
  • Multi Rotor- Drone that is also called the quadcopter, as the name suggests, there are 4 propellers or more arranged in a cross type configuration
  • NPL- National Pilot Licence
  • PPL- Private Pilot Licence
  • ROC- Remote Operators Certificate
  • RPA-Remotely Piloted Aircraft
  • RPAS- Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems
  • RPL- Remote Pilots Licence
  • SACAA- South African Civil Aviation Authority
  • TGM- Technical Guidance Maintenance
  • VLOS- Visual Line Of Sight

Hobbyist FAQ

1What is a Recreational or Hobby Drone Pilot?
Recreational and Hobby Pilots do not fly for commercial gain. Drones are used for recreational purposes only.
2What is the difference between Commercial Drone Pilots and Recreational Drone Pilots?
Commercial, Corporate and Non-Profit Drone Pilots are Pilots that hold a Remote Pilots License (RPL). However, Commercial Pilots can charge their clients a fee for flying in compliance with South African Civil Aviation Association (SACAA) Part 101 requirements.
3As a Recreational Pilot where can I fly safely?
For all Private, Recreational and Hobby Drone Pilots we recommend registering with your local South African Model Aircraft Association (SAMAA). They have airfields across the Country.
4Are there any laws that regulate recreational drone flying?
Yes there are regulations by the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) which apply to both Private (Recreational and Hobby) and Commercial Drone Pilots. These regulations are based on basic safety rules when sharing the skies with other planes.
5Do I need a Competency Certification?
Competency Certification is required in order to obtain Liability Insurance cover for a drone, whether it is used for commercial or recreational purposes.
6As a hobbyist, if I am not familiar with any regulations, what would be the consequence if I fly my drone in an ordinary field?

If you are found to be breaking any regulations you will be prosecuted by the relevant authority and be fined accordingly. A known offender was fined R25000.00 for flying his drone into his neighbour’s plot!!

Should your drone be insured then breaking the law will void your Insurance Policy if an accident occurs.

To get the latest Rules from SACAA Part 101 subscribe to the Legislation notification in order to receive the most up to date rules and regulations.

7If I buy a drone can I fly in my own yard?
You cannot fly within a 50m radius from buildings, structures, privately owned property and roads.