— Elizabeth Marcelo/DVM, GMA News
The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) recently issued a memorandum regulating the operation of unmanned aircraft vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as drones.
Under the CAAP’s Memorandum Circular No. 21 series of 2014 dated June 26, 2014, drone owners or operators are now required to register their equipment with the CAAP, and secure a certification to operate from the agency.
Under a memorandum provision, to be certified as a UAV controller, an applicant must:
- qualify for a radio operator’s certificate of proficiency,
- have been awarded a passed rating in an aviation license theory examination,
- have been awarded a passed rating in an instrument theory examination,
- completed a training course on the operation of the type of UAV that he/she posses to operate,
- have at least five hours experience operating UAVs outside controlled airspace.
The applicant must also first obtain at least one of these three certifications:
- a flight crew license with a command instrument training,
- a military qualification equivalent to a license,
- an air traffic control license.
The memorandum also requires the applicants to provide a detailed description of their UAV and their purpose for operating it.
“Any violation of the said memorandum will be dealt with accordingly as the aviation body imposes stiff penalties to regulate the operations of UAV specially on restricted areas like airports, crowded areas and ‘no fly zone,’” said CAAP-Assistant Director General Capt. Beda Badiola, who is also the head of the agency’s Flight Standard Inspectorate Service (FSIS).
Under the provisions of the Philippine Civil Aviation Regulations (PCAR), “any operators found violating rules will be fined between P300,000 to P500,000 per unauthorized flight depending on the grave of violations.”
In its memo, CAAP defined a UAV controller as a person who performed a function that would be, if the UAV were a manned aircraft, a function of its flight crew.
The CAAP also defined a Large UAV as an unmanned airship with an envelope capacity greater than 100 cubic meters; a Micro UAV means a UAV with a gross weight of 100 grams or less; and Small UAV means a UAV that is neither a large UAV nor a micro UAV.
The memorandum also prohibited the flying of UAVs over populated areas, restricted areas such as airports and no-fly zones such as military training camps, and over Malacañang Palace.
The report also said that while the memorandum was already in effect, some of its provisions would be refined and clarified as soon as the CAAP determines the approved areas where a UAV can be operated without a CAAP certification, and the limit on the altitude and range in which a UAV can be flown.
Drone enthusiast Jerry Cheng, meanwhile, said that while the intention of the memorandum was good, it made things difficult for drone flyers.
“Marami ang gumagamit niyan na frustrated pilot, na hindi afford kaya yan (drone) nalang. So mafo-force pa sila ngayon na kumuha ng pilot lessons, sobrang mahal yun. Sana gawing affordable yung pagkuha ng license (from CAAP),” Cheng said.
Cheng also pointed to the importance of drones in his photography business.
“Kapag professional photographer ka and you want aerial shots aakyat ka sa building, magrerent ka ng chopper, plane or aakyat ka sa puno. But right now, it’s (drone) easier to launch, it’s easier to control at instant siya, you don’t need human effort,” Cheng said.
Several photographers, researchers, geodetic survey firms and media entities are now using drones in obtaining aerial shots as it is more cost-efficient and easy to operate.