3 April, 2014 3 April, 2014

No Fly Zone – Drones Banned in South Africa

Incredible footage captured by drones has been taking the surf world by storm over the past year. Intrigued by the unique angle that these unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) can capture, web surfers have been spinning up the view count on videos like this one at Pipe:

However, a statement sent out by the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) yesterday may put a dampener on drone activity in SA. SACAA have declared it is illegal to be flying UAS within civil aviation airspace.

“The fact is that the SACAA has not given any concession or approval to any organisation, individual, institution or government entity to operate UAS within the civil aviation airspace. Those that are flying any type of unmanned aircraft are doing so illegally; and as the regulator we cannot condone any form of blatant disregard of applicable rules,” said Poppy Khoza, Director of Civil Aviation in the statement.

A recent morning session at Queensberry Bay filmed by a drone sparked debate.

South African civil aviation legislation does not currently provide for certification, registration and operation of drones in South African airspace, but an increase in demand for UAS’s has prompted the SACAA to integrate regulations as swiftly as possible.

Until then, they say that anyone caught operating a drone in public airspace could face a fine of up to R50 000 or ten years imprisonment (or both). How this will be enforced and how it will impact footage of local spots from the air remains to be seen.

For more check out this report on News 24, or soak in the rad moments of this clip shot at California’s Rincon Point.


  1. RWH84
    3 April, 2014 at 12:22 pm · Reply


  2. Milehigh Menace
    3 April, 2014 at 1:19 pm · Reply

    Fuck em.. Buy your drones at http://smashtronics.co.za 😉

    • G Ludick
      7 April, 2014 at 1:06 pm · Reply

      Easy to say but are you paying the R50,000 fine

      • Milehigh Menace
        7 April, 2014 at 5:22 pm · Reply

        They cannot impose fines on hobbiests or professionals who stick to the rules. Don’t fly in government space, don’t fly in civil airspace, don’t fly in crowded public areas. How can they start fining people flying RC aircraft in the bush or on deserted beaches?

        • Tim
          8 April, 2014 at 6:32 am · Reply

          Isn’t a line-up a crowded public area?

          • Milehigh Menace
            8 April, 2014 at 9:12 am ·

            I’ll rephrase that…… “A highly policed public area” as in a concert, big rugby/soccer game, Top gear festival… What organization owns the air just above a surf break when no event is being held?

          • Tim
            8 April, 2014 at 2:55 pm ·

            do you surf?

          • ccs
            13 April, 2014 at 9:12 am ·

            “The fact is that the SACAA has not given any concession or approval to
            any organisation, individual, institution or government entity to
            operate UAS within the civil aviation airspace.” They can not approve the use of drones because there is no legislation in place for them to do so. In their own words “South African civil aviation legislation does not currently provide for
            certification, registration and operation of drones in South African
            airspace.” They can not enforce a law that does nor exist, neither can they grab a fine out of the sky. They obviously don’t know that Parlement makes lawsn not public officials.

  3. rouanza
    3 April, 2014 at 1:53 pm · Reply

    What exactly is the legal definition of civil aviation airspace? What’s our ceiling height then? As far as I know they are talking about flying near airports, or high enough to be in the big aircraft altitudes.

  4. Zach
    3 April, 2014 at 9:43 pm · Reply

    Is the rule against FLYING the drone? I am planning a trip through multiple countries with my drone, some of the time was planned in South Africa. While I’ll still be passing through South Africa, I don’t mind not flying it… but I don’t want it taken from me at the airport.

  5. Tim
    4 April, 2014 at 12:57 am · Reply

    Great news… Less noise in the line-up and let’s face it the drone angle got really old really quick..

    • tam
      1 June, 2014 at 12:31 pm · Reply

      how can u say their angle got old really quick you get get 1 foot of the sea to any other angle you can imagine

  6. Milehigh Menace
    5 April, 2014 at 7:05 am · Reply

    There is no ways they can ban RC aircraft for personal use. They can however ban flying in civil airspace at certain altitudes and in crowded public places as these can both pose risks.

  7. ragged
    5 April, 2014 at 4:05 pm · Reply

    Good Riddance,Nipped In The Bud Before It Caught On Surfwise Here.
    Rc Planes Can’t Be Flown In Public Areas, So I Don’t Know What People Are On About.
    Now,Let’s Concentrate On Banning Jet BoardS,Like Classifying Them As Part Of The Jet Ski Family, And The Bylaws Are Already In Place….,Perfect

    • William Granzier
      30 April, 2014 at 8:29 pm · Reply

      Why not ban booze while you at it ! More people are killed by alcahol than falling drones or speeding jet boards, hover boards or time travel devices. It called being responsible and acting like a tosser

      • ragged
        2 June, 2014 at 1:48 pm · Reply

        The key word there is Responsible,
        something that is lacking in every facets of society in RSA,
        So I stick to my view

  8. William Granzier
    30 April, 2014 at 8:23 pm · Reply

    Well ponder on this….. Effective flying a kite is illegal as it can go well over 500m which is the restriction for civil airspace. No Helicopter or plane may fly below 500m in a built up area. Unless you want to be a total idiot like the twit who buzzed around the harbour in DBn and got everyones feathers ruffled, you shouldnt have anything to fear. But there are always idiots out there that cause trouble for everyone. Its called acting responsible. Civil airspace is above 500m . So I think the CAA should just bear that in mind. I doubt you will be getting in a helicopters airspace bopping over trees following a MTB race in the middle of the karoo

  9. zen
    16 May, 2014 at 8:23 am · Reply

    From the CAR act: 94.06.11 Model aircraft are exempted from these regulations—
    (a) except from regulation 94.05.1; and
    (b) provided that no model aircraft shall be flown—
    (i) higher than 150 feet above the surface; or
    (ii) from or above a public road,

  10. trailblazerguide
    2 June, 2014 at 6:41 am · Reply

    I think we need some mutual tolerance. Do not fly where you will piss people off. Don’t and fly over Nkandla. That said, I am not sure that the CAA has mandate to do what they just did. Still, I don’t want to be the one testing them in court.

  11. Shane Dale
    2 June, 2014 at 11:48 am · Reply

    So narrow minded this ban. Fine it sucks having drones at backline and filming me nose-diving me on a perfect bomb, but an out right ban is extremely short sighted. South Africa currently uses drones (Quad and multi-copters not the menacing USA drone with a frikin Gatling gun and fourteen heat seeking missiles attached) not only in the film industry but also in the fight against poaching, the monitoring of pests in grain and food silos, crop control and monitoring in the farming and agricultural sector, erosion control/monitoring in hard to reach areas, geographic data collection, engineering, architecture, man the list goes on and on.. I agree that these things need to be regulated but an outright ban is ridiculous… One should have to apply for a permit or join a club where you are have to pass a competency test to prevent some douche bag from flying his quad-copter into a boeing or traffic not to mention take out some poor guy trying to enjoy his morning mountain bike run solitude.. Make sense???

    • nick
      2 June, 2014 at 1:42 pm · Reply

      You make good points there.
      Im all for registered use for industry,defence and sciences etc.
      but for a newbie,sitting on the end of new pier taking shots of the ous?
      This Public Statement from authorities has not come soon enough.
      Something that should also have been done with SUP’s and in the very near future Wavejets.

  12. Gerhard
    5 June, 2014 at 4:56 pm · Reply

    CAA primary concern is safety. Model aircraft is flown mostly in safe areas. Drones with cameras are mostly used in crowded areas for various purposes. The risk of a drone with a 1kg camera malfunctioning and killing someone has suddenly gathered statistical significance. The rapid growth in drone population and lack of aviation controls has caused it to become intolerable. It is a great technology for professional and entertainment reasons, but certainly not at the occasional cost of another person’s life.

    Legislation will change, but there is currently not mechanisms in place to ensure safe use of drones. Believe it or not, but billions have been spent on researching and designing systems even in South Africa, but we are not there yet. Your post and parcels will be delivered tomorrow by drones cost effectively (battery charge) if there was a safe way to do it – guaranteed.

  13. JFK
    10 June, 2014 at 8:45 am · Reply

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