Mandatory registration of commercial, recreational drones from next month

Abdulla Abdul Qader Al Maeeni, Director-General of the Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology, ESMA, has confirmed that from next month the UAE will begin to implement the list of technical requirements for registration of drones used for recreational or commercial purposes.

"Traders and suppliers have three months to comply with the regulation in the UAE," he added.

The UAE regulation is the first of its kind globally. This is a proactive step taken by the UAE to legalise this market, Al Maeeni said.

Drones can obstruct air navigation and threaten the safety of passengers. There is a lack of awareness among the operators, as well as major consequences of using them in unsafe and prohibited places.

He pointed out that the direct costs of violating air traffic caused by the unsafe use of such drones without a licence may reach AED350,000 per minute. Studies carried out by specialists at the TRA have shown that financial losses extend to wasting the time of 203 passengers per flight.

With the aim of avoiding all of these challenges, ESMA has set up technical requirements to regulate the circulation of these products in the country markets and to protect society and the national economy from any potential negative consequences.

The Board of Directors of ESMA in May approved a list of technical requirements for the registration of products and systems for drones by the Ministerial Decision No. 43 of 2017. It stipulates, among its most prominent points, that all products bear an explanatory mark and warning in the guidance manual in Arabic and English.

It shall also include the requirements for safe operation, provided by the requirements of the General Authority for Civil Aviation, and the frequency of the aircraft shall be compatible with the TRA allocation, Al Maeeni continued.

He explained the list of technical requirements developed by ESMA, noting that it includes the provision of a central mechanism to track any drone in the UAE markets or airspace through a serial number.

All products must be certified by the manufacturer, bearing the factory's signature and stamp, and include detailed information on the manufacturer's address, brand, and classification of the purpose of using the drone commercial, industrial, recreational, service. It should also specify the technical characteristics of the product regarding weight, electromagnetic compatibility, the property of satellite positioning, bandwidth, speed, and other details.

Producers and traders will be required to submit a request for an ESMA product status statement starting from the beginning of next September. All applications will be submitted via ESMA’s website, he concluded.

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