The Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA) is making it mandatory for drone operators to apply for a license.
Under a new set of regulations, which will come into effect from May 1, retail outlets in the emirate will not be able to sell drones unless the buyer has completed the DCAA registration process to procure a license.
“Customers will be able to buy drones at any retail outlet in Dubai, but they will not be allowed to remove it from the store unless they have got a license,” said Michael Rudolph, head of airspace safety, aviation safety and environment sector, DCAA.
Buyers will also have to undergo a mandatory training program that will test their drone skills, he said.
At present, the UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) also requires drone operators to register drones with them.
The Law No 7 of 2015 on aviation safety mandates to enhance safety in Dubai, as the city has the highest volume of commercial traffic in the UAE and across the GCC, Rudolph said.
Rudolph said the authority has started installing a ‘sky commander’ system, a technology developed in-house, in all registered drones from early 2017, which allows it to track drone activity in real time.
“With the sky commander, in case of any violation, the authority and the drone operator is immediately alerted following which the operator will be asked to rectify course or terminate flight,” Rudolph said.
DCAA, GCAA and other emirates are also working on having a common standard for drones, according to him.
The measure is one of the many that have been put in place to stop drone intrusions in restricted airspace.
Recently, Dubai government said drones that are not registered will attract a fine of up to Dhs20,000 ($5,445).
The initiative followed a series of incidents involving drones at Dubai International Airport 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.
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.
UAE’s airspace is congested, as it has two of the busiest airports in the world. And 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, the 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.