Drones that are not registered will be targeted

Jojo Puthuparampil is a business news writer for Inc. Arabia.

Drones that are not registered in Dubai will now attract a fine of up to Dhs20,000 ($5,445). The fine is as per a resolution approved by Dubai’s Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum.

The initiative follows a series of incidents involving drones at Dubai International Airport recently, resulting in flight delays, diversions and heavy costs for airlines. Under the resolution, anyone seeking to perform an aviation activity in the emirate will need to get an annual licence from Dubai Civil Aviation Authority.

New fees and fines of between Dhs2,000 and Dhs20,000 will be applied for non-registered drone use for commercial activities and Dhs1,000 to Dhs20,000 for other activities.

Using drones during events without a no-objection letter from the authority can result in a fine of Dhs10,000.

Other fines include Dhs5,000 for those carrying out aviation activities, including fireworks, laser displays, aerial photography, advertising, balloon launches and air lights, without a licence or a no-objection letter. Establishing a warehouse to store dangerous goods in an aviation easement area will attract a Dhs10,000 fine.

A lack of aircraft warning lights and conducting aviation sector activity without the authority’s conditions will carry fines of between Dhs5,000 to Dhs10,000.

In addition, those that fail to renew their licence following its expiry without an acceptable accuse will be fined 10% of the fee every month.

Meanwhile, UAE will stop importing unmanned aerial vehicles that don’t meet guidelines as it works on setting up fresh standards for drones, according to the director general of the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA).

GCAA, the federal, autonomous body set up to oversee aviation-related activities in the country, is working with the Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology to set up a standard for drones so to minimise the range and control the functions on them.

The aviation body is also in talks with the Customs Department. Those drones which do not comply with our standards will be stopped from being imported, said Al Suwaidi.

UAE’s airspace is congested as it has two of the busiest airports in the world. The increasing presence of drones has been raising safety and security risks.

In September, Dubai International Airport suffered an airspace closure due to unauthorised drone activity, the second such disruption within four months.

A month before, Dubai Civil Aviation Authority introduced no-fly zones for drones earlier this year following a similar incident in 2015, which includes airports and other locations deemed sensitive by the authority.

The UAE government also said that it will soon finalise laws that will closely regulate the sale of drones and their operations, aiming to reduce risks posed by unmanned aerial vehicles.

The move came after Dubai International Airport was briefly closed on June 12 due to unauthorised drone activity in the surrounding airspace.

In April 2016, GCAA said that all drone users need to apply for registration cards. Additionally, it established four drone no-fly zones and nine areas requiring registration across Dubai.

Besides, a permission to fly drones is required for nine other areas, including Downtown Dubai around the Burj Khalifa and the Skydive Dubai desert campus.

Registration will cost Dhs50 for leisure users and Dhs500 for commercial operators and will be accepted and processed within 72 hours.

Existing laws that regulate the movement of drones in the UAE were introduced in April 2015. They focus mainly on commercial licensing and approving how firms use drones, al-Dossari told reporters.

The UAE banned the use of recreational drones in certain locations in March 2015, and also barred them from flying higher than 90 metres.

In the UAE, drones are used for mapping, security surveillance, wildlife surveys as well as for environmental, transport, agricultural and maritime purposes.