KCAA to effect drone charges after approval

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Kenyan farmers wishing to use drones can now breathe a sigh of relief, following the passage of a new set of regulations on unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), by the National Assembly in March 2021.

In the new legislation, the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) will operationalise the Civil Aviation (Regulatory Fees and Charges for Unmanned Aircraft Systems) Regulations 2020, after Transport CS, James Macharia gazetted it in Legal Notice No. 4 of 2021.

The passing of the regulations by Parliament paves the way for the full implementation of the UAS regulatory framework in Kenya. The new charges are a reduction from the revoked rates under the Kenya Civil Aviation (Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems) Regulations, 2017.

Following this, Kenyans and entities wishing to own and operate UAS, popularly known as drones, will pay a registration fee of Ksh3,000, down from Ksh5,000.

According to Mr Gilbert Kibe, KCAA director-general, the regulations herald a new era in Kenya’s aviation ecosystem and open the sector up to innovations.

“Innovations in UAS have been growing at such an exponential rate. The capabilities of this technology are limitless judging by the positives such as filming documentaries, movies, sports, weddings and delivering medicines,’’ he said.

Following the passage of the Civil Aviation Regulations 2020, KCAA is encouraging individuals and entities that have imported UAS to apply for registration and approval and lawfully engage in safe and secure drone operations.

The operations cover precision agriculture, wildlife management, inspection of power grids, buildings, dam, solar inspection, research, crop spraying and data collection, forest management, road traffic monitoring and surveillance and aerial mapping.

The new regulations categorise drones based on the risks posed by their operations, from the low risk to high risk, under categories A, B and C. Other categories are the purpose of the UAS, and risk posed to public safety and security. All these form the basis for consideration in registering, issuing of approvals and authorisation for operations.

In an era where the privacy of persons and property are important, the Civil Aviation Regulations (UAS) 2020 have provisions to ensure such discretion is respected, as provided for in the Constitution and national laws. In addition, the KCAA will be undertaking public sensitisation on the application and implementation of the regulations.

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