DroneCon 2016 Johannesburg

DroneCon 2016 Johannesburg

Fledgling drone companies met in South Africa last week for the first DroneCon at Emporer’s Palace in Kempton Park, Johannesburg. The event was organized by Vukani Communications and more than 100 people attended the conference, with most being of C level positions. The largest contingent came from the mining community.

Interestingly the head of South Africa’s Hawks, which is the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, Lt Gen Ntlemeze was lurking around as well.

Of the 8 licensed operators in South Africa, two operators were presenting, FC Hamman Films and UAV Industries. Here is the programme listing all the presentations at the conference over the two day event:


South Africa suffers from ill-conceived regulations. The marketplace is very similar to Australia and it would have been better to follow their lead rather than plough a new furrow.

Getting an RPA pilot license (RPL) is fairly straight forward in South Africa, licensing the company itself is a nightmare, though. South African drone regulations do not allow for ‘one-man’ operations unfortunately. FC Hamman, founder and owner of FC Hamman Films, explained that with over 280 RPL license holders in South Africa and only 8 companies licensed so far, that there is a need for CAA to accommodate single-pilot operations in future regulations.

That would be a ratio of 35 licensed drone pilots per licensed company. Many RPL’s are ‘likely’ operating illegally as they are not flying under an ROC company certificate/license.

At sUAS News, we agree that the South African CAA needs to urgently review its RPA provisions.  

I found John Monk from CSIR and his tales of RPA developments in South Africa very compelling and UAV Industries had an informed presentation about safety and risk management in drone operations.


Well done to Vukani for a well-organised conference and for attracting some very informed speakers, I am looking forward to next year’s event although I would say that getting a few more exhibitors to display their technology for the “expo” side of the conference would be nice.

One of the exhibitors, UAS manufacturer EasyUAV (based in Krugersdorp, South Africa) had their X8 ‘Sledgehammer’ multirotor on display alongside their ‘Aquila Jump’ SLT/VTOL fixed wing UAS platform.


The Aquila Jump is all-electric with a puller prop up front and an electric quad setup for the VTOL part. The company claims the unit will fly for one and a half hours with around one and a half kilograms of payload. I would love to see it fly in person at some stage, just the other day I went down to Knysna to see Alti UAS’s 6 hour VTOL platform in action:


Download the slides for some of the presentations in PDF format below:

UAS Integration, Safety and Security Considerations: https://www.suasnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Braam-Botha-UAV-Industries.pdf

Implementing a Commercial UAV Strategy; an Anglo Platinum Perspective: https://www.suasnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Enslin-Beetge-Anglo-Platinum.pdf

The use of drone technology in Film and Commercial Production: https://www.suasnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/FC-Hamman-FC-Hamman-Films.pdf

Incorporating drones in Municipalities: https://www.suasnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Heico-Kuhn-iGlobe-Group.pdf

The convenience of UAVs in Agriculture: https://www.suasnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Kas-van-der-Merwe-Lantek-SA.pdf

Cargo Drones and their uses: https://www.suasnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Michael-Schmidt-ProJourn.pdf

Breakthrough Technologies Reshaping Unmanned Aerial Systems: https://www.suasnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Michael-Spratley-ATEC-3D.pdf

Drones and Health Service Delivery: https://www.suasnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Prof-Barry-Mendelow-University-of-Witwatersrand.pdf

Drones, GIS and Crime; Challenges and Opportunities: https://www.suasnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Prof-Greg-Breetzke-University-of-Pretoria.pdf



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Tiaan Roux

CIO, sUAS News | "My interest in UAS began in 2006 in the Masai Mara, Kenya where I was working as a bush pilot and met Gary Mortimer. I have always loved computers, maps, aerial photos and any kind of flying thing so the UAS addiction quickly took hold. Since then my interest in these technologies has grown from just an interest to building and flying small UAS as well as getting involved with sUAS News."