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The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) on Thursday said owners or operators of unmanned aircraft vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as drones, who will use them commercially must register with the CAAP, and secure a certification to operate the drones.
"We have agreed that regardless of the weight, if it will be used for commercial purposes, it has to be registered," said CAAP Assistant Director General Beda Badiola at a press conference on Thursday.
The CAAP defines 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.
Under the CAAP's Memorandum Circular No. 35-21 of 2014 dated November 25, 2014, drone owners must register their equipment "to bear the registration markings 'PR-U' followed by the assigned number 001 to 999, followed by a letter from A to Z."
Under the memorandum, 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,
* have 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.
"Kung hindi ka private pilot license holder, pwede ka pa rin kumuha ng certificate of authorization, but you would need to pass the theory of flight, para maintindihan mo paano ito i-control, and then 'yung exam also on civil air regulations," Badiola said, noting that reviewers can be bought at any flying school.
Badiola added that applicants must also secure a clearance from the Armed Forces of the Philippines' deputy chief of staff for intelligence.
On the other hand, owners of drones below 1.5 kilograms and that will be used for recreation will not be required to have their equipment registered, said Badiola.
"Kasi ang mangyayari, itong recreational purposes will be delagated or assigned to certain areas lang where they can fly," he said. "For recreational purposes, maco-contain sila sa area na iyon."
When asked to identify these areas, Badiola said they have yet to decide as they would first meet with the stakeholders in February.
For his part, CAAP deputy for operations Ret. Brig. Gen. Rodante Joya, at the same press conference, said the regulation of drones is for possible threats.
"Napakaraming posibleng paggamitan ng drone na hindi maganda, and as we have said, we will make sure na as much as possible, the owners are really responsible, talagang naayon sa ating batas ang kanilang paggamit ng drones," he said.
Meanwhile, Joya said from the time the memorandum took effect last November, they have confiscated at least three drones.
Joya said two of the drones were confiscated from media personnel covering the Black Nazarene procession.
"'Yung dalawa nga, nahuli habang nagco-cover ng Black Nazarene feast, eh more than three million ang mga tao doon, paano kung bumagsak ang mga iyon?" he said. "Kahit walang no-fly zone, bawal 'yan paliparin over the congregation of people."
When asked if the owners of the confiscated drones would need to pay a penalty, Joya said they are still mulling over a moratorium for the penalties, noting that for now, owners may get their equipment back after they register with CAAP.
For his part, Badiola reminded the public that the operation of registered drones have its limitation.
"Unless authorized, they cannot operate in any public areas, overpopulated areas, government buildings, public buildings... Those are the general rules..." he said.
Under the memorandum, UAVs cannot be flown into crowds or restricted areas like airports, or no-fly zones like military camps or the presidential residence. — JDS, GMA News