The government’s proposed policy of using the weight of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), also known as drones, to determine what rules they come under is not feasible, the Taiwan UAV Development Association said, adding that local governments lack the skills and personnel to regulate the devices.
Based on amendments to the Civil Aviation Act (民用航空法) proposed by the Executive Yuan, the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) is to be in charge of regulating drones weighing 15kg or more, while those weighing less than 15kg would be supervised by local governments.
Apart from restricted airspace, local governments would be able to draw up their own list of areas where drones would be prohibited, the proposal said.
The association’s chairman, former CAA director-general Billy Chang (張國政), said that there should only be one government agency regulating drones.
CAA Flight Standards Division Director Clark Lin (林俊良) said that the CAA has withdrawn previously proposed amendments, adding that it is to hold a public hearing next month on the revised edition.
The Flight Standards Division consulted regulations on drones in the US and the EU before revising its proposal, Lin said.
He said the US so far has only set rules requiring drone operators to register the devices, but it has yet to stipulate rules regulating drones used for commercial or leisure purposes.
While the EU lays out relatively specific rules on drone use, Lin said that it also includes a caveat that it would revise the rules contingent on the development of the technology.
The amendment should give the CAA more flexibility and sufficient authorization so that it can stipulate rules of enforcement that reflect advances in technology in a timely manner, Lin said.
On the new amendment, Lin said that the CAA is to be in charge of stipulating rules governing the registration, management and operation of drones, adding that the agency would simultaneously present the drafts of the amended act and the enforcement policies.
Citing the previous proposal, Lin said that drones are in principle only allowed to fly during daytime hours below 400 feet (121.92m) and within visual range. They are not allowed to fly above crowds and must keep their distance from buildings.
If a drone is to fly at night, above a crowd or outside of visual range, special permissions must be obtained from the CAA or the local government, Lin said.
As an example, Lin said that drone operators would have to apply for permission from the CAA if a flight was to take place at night or near an airport.
Should a flight take place above a crowd during a demonstration or rally, drone operators must secure permission from the local administration, he said.
“Each local government should make public a list of areas where the use of drones is permissible. We [the CAA] would have no idea about what places would be appropriate in each city or county for such activities,” Lin said. “We also need the assistance of local governments to help crack down on illegal drone use.”
The association, which was officially established yesterday, said that it would seek to become a government-authorized agency to certify people to operate drones.
Those with a valid license issued by the agency would be able to fly drones in Taiwan, China and Hong Kong, it added.
“We hope that the association would bring together manufacturers, parts suppliers and drone operators to facilitate the research and development of the industry,” Chang said.
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