GACA bans all drones in Kingdom’s airspace

Law aims to enhance security, air safety – Deputy Badr

JEDDAH, 3 Dec. 2015 – Remotely controlled drones of all types and sizes have become illegal to operate in Saudi Arabia without prior permits.
The Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation, the Kingdom’s regulator of all aspects of civil aviation, issued the bylaw “to maintain air safety within the Kingdom’s airspace,” it said in a statement.
Capt. Abdulhakim Al-Badr, Deputy to GACA’s President for Safety and Air Transport, said the bylaw bans the operation of any drones of any type or size within the Kingdom’s airspace, adding that GACA is working with other government agencies to enforce the law and maintain air safety in the Kingdom.
He pointed out that GACA’s move aims to mitigate any possible hazards to air safety that might arise from operating drones without proper permits.
Badr further explained that drones have become such a global concern that the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) felt the need to hold a global conference earlier this year to discuss possible ways to regulate the usage and operation of drones, so as to ensure the safety of civilian air traffic.
He noted that corporations and institutions may obtain permits to operate drones after filing requests through the proper channels, and may use them only for strictly operational purposes, with each instance of their usage requiring a specific permit by GACA.
Badr underlined the possible dangers posed by drones, saying that some of them are imported through the Kingdom’s customs inlets as “toys.”
Some of these drones are then equipped with high-resolution stills and video cameras locally, posing a threat to general security and high-security locations and facilities, as well as the danger they pose to passenger and freight aircraft.
Badr urged the owners and operators of drones to abide by the law, and warned that violators will be prosecuted by the concerned government agencies.
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