The South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) has approved Public Display Technologies’ (PDT) Rocketmine Division as the first commercial RPAS operator for the South African mining sector.
As of 16 October 2015, Rocketmine Aerial UAV Service provider received their Commercial Operating Licence for Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS).
In May 2015 South Africa took the lead in the aviation industry when SACAA Director Poppy Khoza announced that the commercial use of RPAS would be regulated from 1 July 2015.
The need for regulation was prompted by a huge demand for the commercial use of drones in South Africa and subsequent safety concerns; the strict SACAA application process ensures that drone operators meet all standards for safety, security and privacy.
“Using drones to conduct operational duties has produced high quality data in a fraction of the time and at a percentage of the costs. In the mining industry in particular, most high risk tasks conducted by our drones have eliminated the safety risk for mining staff’, explains Chris Clark, RocketMine Division Head.
“There is no doubt that drones are set to revolutionise the way in which many key industries in South Africa conduct their business” says Clark.
Albert Msithini, Manager of Unmanned Aircraft Systems at the SACAA, said that the department was delighted to issue PDT the licence. “PDT is among the first organizations that regularly engaged the SACAA with regards to development and promulgation of the RPAS regulations. The journey involved various robust debates over the development phase, which ended in February of 2015 when the draft regulations were submitted to the Minister of Transport for approval. The regulations were approved and became effective on 1 July 2015” Msithini explains.
The commercial use of drones has already shown huge success in the mining and agricultural sectors, as well as construction, forestry and insurance industries. This is likely to expand rapidly as the approval of SACAA licences opens up a whole new world of assessment and operational capacity.