Thu, Oct 29, 2015 - Page 4 News List

Drone regulations meet opposition

SUPERVISION:Lawmakers said that a proposal dividing regulatory responsibility over drones based on size would place the main burden on local governments

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers yesterday questioned the Executive Yuan’s proposed changes to the Civil Aviation Act (民用航空法) on regulating drones, saying they would put the burden of responsibility on local governments, which are ill-equipped to deal with them.

The government decided to regulate the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) following a series of accidents, including drones hitting the landmark Taipei 101 skyscraper.

Based on amendments proposed by the Executive Yuan, the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) is to be in charge of regulating drones weighing 15kg and above, while those weighing less than 15kg would be under the supervision of local governments.

Apart from restricted fly zones, local governments would be able to draw up their own list of areas where drones would be prohibited, the proposal said.

However, DPP legislators Lee Kun-tse (李昆澤) and Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) questioned whether local governments have the personnel and the capabilities to regulate UAVs.

Lee said the proposal would require owners of drones weighing 15kg and above to obtain operating licenses and have them registered, but the rule would not apply to smaller drones.

Given that 60 percent of the drones in the country are the smaller type, the central government is essentially asking local governments to shoulder the main responsibility for their regulation, he added.

Kuan said the Executive Yuan’s proposal does not take into consideration how drones might invade people’s privacy, affect national security or endanger public safety.

“The government must also balance public interests with industrial development, as drones can be used for aerial filming, marketing and other commercial purposes,” she said, adding that the committee should hold a hearing on the issues.

Kuan asked two transportation officials representing the Taipei City and New Taipei City governments for their opinions on the matter. Both said they do not have additional human resources to supervise or regulate drones.

Kuan said the amendment is not viable because even two of the nation’s wealthiest cities have said that they would have problems enforcing it, adding that the amendment would be nothing more than a sham and would only confuse local government officials.

DPP Legislator Yeh Yi-jin (葉宜津) asked if the Aviation Safety Council should investigate accidents involving the use of remote-controlled toy planes if such regulations are stated in the Civil Aviation Act, which she likened to using a knife that is designed to kill a cow to kill a chicken instead.

She said that the CAA should consider drafting another law or a special chapter in the Civil Aviation Act to regulate drones.

Deputy Minister of Transportation and Communications Wu Meng-fen (吳盟分) said the ministry had consulted similar regulations in other countries before it decided to use 15kg as a way to divide the supervisory work between the central and local governments.

Wu added that the government cannot require all drone users to register, as the government would be accused of further restricting the rights of individuals.

Wu said the CAA still has to draft specific rules of enforcement after the amendment is passed.

CAA Director General Lin Tyh-ming (林志明) said the agency would set up a platform allowing both central and local governments to register so that the management of drones could be reinforced.

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