Flying camera drones in South Africa banned with immediate effect

Cape Town – The use of flying drones with mounted cameras has been banned with immediate effect in South Africa by the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA).

This makes it illegal for any TV news operation, productions doing film shoots, people shooting documentaries, TV series or film agencies to use drones.

SACAA issued an immediate prohibition on the use of flying camera drones in South Africa, with no further permits being issued.

SACAA says the ban of all so-called "unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV's)" with cameras in South Africa is due to a lack of regulations guiding its use and that more time is necessary to understand its use, as well as to come up with an outline of how these camera drones could be incorporated into the civil aviation sector.

"There is ongoing global research in this area to overcome this deficiency," says Kabelo Ledwaba, SACAA communications manager.

"South Africa runs the risk of losing production activities to other areas who approve the use of camera drones," says Denis Lillie, the chief executive of the Cape Town Film Commission (CFC).

"The ban will not only affect feature films, but also tourism promotion agencies often looking for aerial shots."

In response to the ban, Screen Africa reported that the Cape Town Film Commission (CFC) has been in discussion with the SACAA, the Ministry of Transport, the Department of Trade and Industry as well as the Deputy Mayor of Cape Town and has requested that the SACAA implement their model aircraft policy for use of the drones.

If approved, the policy will require adopting the below guidelines, which are similar to those used in Europe and Australia:

- Flying only under 120m
- No flying within 4.2 nautical miles of an airport
- Flying only in line of sight of the operator (500m)
- No auto pilot flying or night flying
- No flying over public property and roads without permission.

In addition to this, the CFC requested that filmmakers support the initiative by sending letters which express the importance of UAV use in filmmaking and outline how the immediate ban will impact on employment and South Africa’s economy.

*This article relates to the use of drones in the TV/film/media industry (as described in paragraph 2) and not personal use.

- Channel24/Screen Africa

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24