Aviation plays a very important role in the development of the nation. Air transport helps a nationto build a global chain of networking. The aviation industry is one of the major employment generators, around 87.7 million jobs are generated through the aviation industry.It also contributes around $3.5 trillion to the global economy. Countries' tourism is also dependent on the aviation industry as more than 50% of tourists prefer to travel by air. Aviation is one of the major wealth generators for most countries, so every country has its own authority to control air traffic. Saudi Arabia's aviation authority is known as the General Authority of Civil Aviation of Saudi Arabia. (GACA)
What is the GACA of Saudi Arabia? The General Authority of Civil Aviation of Saudi Arabia is responsible for regulating air transport services, implementing civil air regulations, and looking into the air safety and flying standards.
GACA is one of the major contributors to the GDP of the Saudi kingdom. It helps in the growth and modernization of the Saudi aviation sector, especially by employing top and well qualified personnel. GACA came into existence when PCA - Presidency of Civil Aviation, was split into Civil Aviation Authority and the Royal Saudi Air Force in 2006. At the end of 2011, GACA was separated from the Ministry of Defense to operate a legal and public status with its own administrational and financial independence. GACA is also responsible for framing the rules and regulations for flying drones in Saudi Arabia. Let's take a look at the rules and regulations for flying drones in Saudi Arabia as per GACA guideline.
Is Drone Flying Legal in Saudi Arabia As per the GACA, flying drones in Saudi Arabia is completely legal but one should follow the rules and regulation guidelines strictly.
Rules To Fly Drones in Saudi Arabia It is not legal to fly drones unless and until you are following the guidelines led by GACA. You can import the drones and legally fly them.
Let's look at some rules set by the GACA for drones:
Do not fly drones over people or in crowded areas.
Do not fly a drone above 150 meters.
While flying the drone respect the privacy of others.
Do not lose sight of your drone.
Strictly do not fly the drone over airports.
The drone must fly in broad daylight and under good weather conditions.
Drones are strictly prohibited from flying over sensitive areas like government and military bases.
Drone Registration In Saudi Arabia Before flying the drone, you should register the drone with GACA. Below are the guidelines for the registration of drones:
Drone more than 250 grams need to apply for the Certificate of Aircraft Registration.
Renewing drone registration after every three years is a must.
After getting the approval of the Certificate of Aircraft Registration every drone must display the unique identification number issued by the Registry.
The unique identification number must be easily visible during the inspection and must be affixed in a secure place.
How to apply for authorization? The application has to be submitted in a format that is acceptable to the president of GACA. It should include all the information about UAS, performance characteristics, communications, pilot documentation, and all other important operations data.
Authorization Guidelines For Foreign Operators Only registered drones are allowed in the country. Drone registration applications are managed by GACA. GACA has an online registration portal from where you can easily apply for the registration. You must submit the information like serial number, model number, and an identification document. The registration fee for the private user is 250 SAR and for commercial users 500 SAR.
Guideline to Fly Drones in Saudi Arabia For Private Operators One may not operate the drone until it meets the following conditions:
The drone should be properly registered, marked and granted an airworthiness certificate under GACAR Part 21
Drones cannot be operational unless GACA Air Traffic Control provider approves the operational area.
The operator has been given specific operating authorization by the President.
Remote pilots must have a Part 101 - Remote Pilot Certificate issued by GACAR.
Guideline to Fly Drones in Saudi Arabia For Commercial Operators
To operate commercially certain guidelines must be followed:
You must carry and have a valid Part 107 - Remote Pilot Certificate issued by GACA.
The drone cannot be operated carelessly endangering other people's life or property.
Drone cannot be operated unless the GACA Air Traffic Control provider approves the operational area.
The drone should be used only in daylight.
Between your drone and the ground, you must maintain a visible line of sight (VLOS).
A remote pilot is allowed to fly one drone at a time.
You must make sure that your drone is not used to transport hazardous materials.
You must make sure that you do not fly drones over the people.
The speed of the drone should be below 100 miles per hour (87 knots).
Remember drones must fly below 400 meters above ground level.
Drones cannot be operated from the moving vehicles unless you are in a thinly populated region.
Your drone should not hinder the manned aircraft's way, you must give the way to the aircraft.
Certification for Drone flying It is not difficult to fly drones in Saudi Arabia if you follow all the guidelines mentioned by GACA. To use drones commercially in Saudi Arabia Remote Pilot Certificate must be availed. Below are the requirements to avail certificate:
You should know how to write, read, speak, and must understand the English language.
You must be in good physical and mental health to properly fly a small UAS.
The minimum age required to fly a drone is 18.
You should pass the knowledge test in aeronautics.
You should be able to attain clearance from GACA Aviation Security Division.
Summing Up GACA plays a very important role in framing the rules and regulations for flying drones in Saudi Arabia. If anyone wants to operate drones in Saudi Arabia they should strictly comply with the regulations of GACA. Flying a drone in Saudi Arabia is not a tough task. To enjoy drone flying in Saudi Arabia you must also acknowledge the security concerns of the country's citizens.