Li­censed drone pi­lot tells users to stick to rules af­ter dra­mas

7 Days in Dubai - - NEWS - Shoshana@7days.ae

Drones are in the spot­light af­ter a UAV was flown near Dubai In­ter­na­tional Air­port last week­end forc­ing the clo­sure of the city’s airspace for more than an hour – the third such in­ci­dent this year.

Emi­rates and Dubai Air­ports have since called on the au­thor­i­ties to act, in­clud­ing in­stalling track­ers into de­vices, drone de­tec­tors around the air­port and mak­ing an ex­am­ple of of­fend­ers.

But the rules and reg­u­la­tions are com­plex and just 400 users have signed-up to the manda­tory regis­tra­tion process.

It is thought the ac­tual num­ber of drone users is far higher.

Here, li­censed drone pi­lot Hatem Bi­tar, an au­dio and video en­gi­neer, ex­plains the process and gives his view on re­cent air­port in­cur­sions.

Buy­ing a drone ap­pears to be very easy and you don’t have to sign any­thing in-store – but regis­tra­tion is manda­tory. Could you talk us through the process?

“When you buy a drone you have to un­der­stand you are buy­ing a de­vice that is not a toy.

“So that’s why you have to reg­is­ter it, just like you do be­fore you drive a car.

“As a drone buyer you fall into one of two cat­e­gories: ei­ther the skilled drone op­er­a­tor or the un­skilled drone op­er­a­tor. If you’re a skilled drone op­er­a­tor then you don’t have to go for the drone train­ing course. “If you’re not, there is only one academy that does the train­ing and cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, it’s in Dubai and it’s called Sanad Academy. So this is the only place where it is au­tho­rised to check, cer­tify and do the train­ing on drone fly­ing.”

What do you study at Sanad Academy? “If you don’t have a cer­ti­fi­ca­tion you need to at­tend an exam, which is in three parts: one part is the­o­ret­i­cal, then a sim­u­la­tion on the com­puter, then an ac­tual drone flight. “Once they glean that you can fly a drone safely they will give you a cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. You take the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion and they will give you a drone regis­tra­tion num­ber. “You take a photo of this cer­ti­fi­ca­tion and a photo of your drone with the regis­tra­tion tag stuck on it and then you up­load it on the GCAA web­site.

“Once you up­load it on the GCAA web­site they will give you a ref­er­ence num­ber. Af­ter one week they will give you the pi­lot regis­tra­tion card, which men­tions your name, na­tion­al­ity, photo and the regis­tra­tion num­ber of your drone.”

Do you be­lieve many drone users have ac­tu­ally reg­is­tered and got a li­cence?

“From my ex­pe­ri­ence you have maybe 5 per cent of the ac­tual drones in the UAE reg­is­tered – and this is very alarm­ing.

“Even if you buy a small toy those are re­ally dan­ger­ous and can kill some­one if it falls on their head. Some peo­ple try to test the range and they get it out of con­trol and it could get in the path­way of the plane – it’s re­ally dan­ger­ous.”

What could hap­pen if you fly a drone with­out train­ing, a li­cence and regis­tra­tion?

If you are fly­ing with a regis­tra­tion in a re­stricted zone, you are in trou­ble, but if you’re fly­ing with­out a regis­tra­tion in a re­stricted zone, you are in re­ally deep trou­ble.

How have the re­cent in­ci­dents at the air­port af­fected li­censed drone users?

The des­ig­nated ar­eas are avail­able on the GCAA web­site, you just down­load the map. But what is hap­pen­ing nowa­days is that 15-16 year-old chil­dren are buy­ing drones and fly­ing them, get­ting in trou­ble and this is af­fect­ing ev­ery­body, in­clud­ing the reg­is­tered peo­ple.

“They are mak­ing the laws strict, it is giv­ing drone pi­lots a bad rep­u­ta­tion, be­cause of the child­ish things they are do­ing.”

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