Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
Gulf Today Report
In his capacity as Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, has issued Law No. (4) Of 2020, outlining the regulations governing drone activity in Dubai.
The Law aims to reduce risks associated with drone activity and specifies the duties and responsibilities of relevant authorities. The new Law also seeks to help Dubai promote itself as a hub for drone manufacturing, smart transportation and innovation in the sector, and enable public and private entities to use drones and provide drone-related services.
The Law applies to the activity of all types of drones across Dubai and its free zones. Drones that are used for military purposes are exempted from this Law. However, they should coordinate with the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority to ensure safety and avoid endangering civil aviation operations.
Dubai Civil Aviation Authority
According to the Law, the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority is tasked with overseeing the implementation of the Law and managing all related operations and activities in line with federal legislations and international treaties and conventions. This also includes monitoring and controlling drone activity in their designated airspace and outlining the conditions and procedures for issuing permits and conducting trials.
The Dubai Civil Aviation Authority is also tasked with identifying and approving the designated areas and heights within which the operations and trials of drones can be conducted.
Dubai Air Navigation Services
Dubai Air Navigation Services is tasked with streamlining the activity of drones within Dubai’s airspace and demarcating the airspace within which they can operate in order to support Dubai Civil Aviation Authority in monitoring drone activity.
Dubai Air Navigation Services is also tasked with providing air navigation services and air traffic movement and meteorological information to drone operators so that they can operate safely.
Dubai Aviation Engineering Projects
Dubai Aviation Engineering Projects is tasked with setting specifications, standards and conditions for ‘Drone Airports’ and presenting them to the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority for approval. Dubai Aviation Engineering Projects is also tasked with ensuring the design and plans of ‘Drone Airports’ are aligned with urban plans and transportation regulations in the city.
The Law tasks Dubai Police with managing all the security aspects of drone activity and coordinating with the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority to put in place security measures to prevent the illegal use of drones and crimes committed by using drones, as well as measures to deal with the loss of control of drones, especially when they are flying outside their designated areas and not complying with regulations.
Licence for drone activity
According to the Law, all drone-related operations require a licence from the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority. The Law outlines the conditions for the use of drones and various permitted drone activities including those that are related to government operations, commercial activity, scientific and research activities, leisure, or activities specified by the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority’s Managing Director. The DCAA Managing Director is also in charge of listing the permitted categories for drone operations in Dubai. Anyone who possesses a drone should register it with the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority.
The Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, in coordination with the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, is tasked with outlining the procedures for the use of radio frequencies for drones and their systems and remote-control stations.
As per the Law, a permit from the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority is required for developing infrastructure for the operation of drones. The permit will be issued in coordination with the Dubai Aviation Engineering Projects and other relevant authorities, in accordance with relevant regulations and conditions.
The Law prohibits any person from establishing or operating airports for drones or making any modification on such facilities before obtaining a permit from the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority. This permit will be issued in coordination with the Dubai Aviation Engineering Projects and other concerned authorities. When using airports and airstrips, drone operators must comply with the rules and safety standards set by the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority.
Refuelling, power and operational safety certificate
In accordance with the Law, a permit from the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority is required to supply drones with fuel or power. This permit will be issued in coordination with the Dubai Aviation Engineering Projects and other relevant authorities. Prior to operating drones, its systems and airport strips, operators are required to obtain an operational safety certificate.
Mandatory guidelines for operating drones
The Law specifies the guidelines that operators, pilots, supervisors and crew members should comply with including safety requirements and procedures, manufacturer's instructions, and security requirements set by the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority in coordination with the Dubai Air Navigation Services and relevant authorities.
Use of airspace
The airspace and areas designated for drones will be determined by the Director General of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority. The Dubai Air Navigation Services is responsible for determining the air routes in which drones may fly according to pre-planned and approved procedure set out by the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority.
Controlled airspace and prohibited areas
In accordance with the Law, all individuals, other than authorised personnel, are prohibited from operating drones in controlled airspaces designated for civilian or military aircraft. The Dubai Civil Aviation Authority may allow select drone operations in controlled airspace in accordance with specific regulations, provided they do not affect civil aviation.
All individuals are prohibited from operating drones in restricted and dangerous areas. The Dubai Civil Aviation Authority in coordination with Dubai Police may allow government agencies to use drones for security, rescue, firefighting, surveillance or other purposes that are in the public interest. Subject to the approval of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, government authorities may use drones for providing public services, control and inspection processes, data collection and statistics, ambulance services, firefighting, traffic monitoring, conducting monitoring required for environmental, health, planning and construction compliance, infrastructure, ports, beaches, sea ports, air surveys, and search and rescue operations, in accordance with the regulations adopted by the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority.
Acts of unlawful interference
According to the Law, acts of unlawful interference, which endanger the safety of civil aviation and air transport include illegal seizure of drones, illegal control of their operating systems, any act that is deemed illegal as per regulations, and installation of any weapon, device or dangerous substance or prohibited materials on drones. Any individual who carries out any of these acts is subject to legal action.
Confidentiality and data protection
According to the Law, anyone who uses a drone must take all necessary measures to avoid violating the privacy of individuals, and the privacy of private property and commercial assets and maintain the confidentiality of legally protected data.
Using recording, photography or remote sensing equipment to violate the freedom and privacy of individuals or families, as well as photographing facilities, buildings and restricted or prohibited areas without authorisation from concerned entities, and installing any equipment to collect information and data illegally, are strictly prohibited by Law.
Punishment, violations and compensation for damages
Without prejudice to any other legislation, tough penalties including imprisonment and/or fines, could be applied to anyone who endangers the safety and security of the airspace, or designs, manufactures, assembles or modifies drones and its systems, and develops simulation and training systems, or imports or sells drones, parts or systems in the Emirate without permission from the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, as well as anyone who operates drones in violation of the provisions of the new Law.
Any individual causing damage due to drone operations shall be responsible for damage compensation and removal of the cause of damage during the period determined by the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority. In case of delay, the Authority is authorised to remove the cause of damage, in addition to charging the person or party responsible for the damage 20% of the cost of removing the damage.
Anyone with a grievance may submit a written appeal to the Director General of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DAA) against the decisions, procedures or measures taken against him or her in accordance with this Law, within 30 days of the date of the actions. The grievance will be reviewed within 30 days of its submission by a committee formed by the Director General of the Authority.
Apart from decisions made by the Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai in accordance with the provisions of this Law, the Director General of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority shall issue the decisions required to implement the provisions of this Law. Any provisions of other legislations that conflict with or contradict the provisions of the new Law shall be considered void. The Law will be published in the Official Gazette and is effective from the date of its publication.
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