The Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) is soon to unveil regulations governing the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) in a bid to minimize accidents and violations.
The agency said that in the first half of the year, it meted out fines of NT$300,000 (US$9,878) each for 10 violations that occurred last year in which UAV users were charged with endangering aviation safety by operating drones in no-fly or restricted zones.
Most of the violators were caught after they posted photographs or videos online taken by their camera-equipped drone and people who saw them reported them to the agency, CAA Deputy Director-General Ho Shu-ping (何淑萍) said.
Four incidents this year forced Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) and Kaohsiung International Airport to ground all their flights when drones were sighted in the no-fly zones.
In 2015, a drone was found near Songshan airport’s runway.
The Taipei 101 building has been hit by drones several times, because the building is located in the perimeter of Songshan airport’s restricted flight zone, Ho said.
Operation of drones 60m above ground in a restricted zone is banned, she said, adding that users should always check if they are operating in legal zones and heed safety rules.
A proposed amendment to the Civil Aviation Act (民用航空法) has been submitted to the Executive Yuan for review so that drone operators would have clearer guidelines to follow, she said.
The agency had proposed using the weight of the drones to determine whether the central or local governments should have the authority to regulate them, but legislators and the Taiwan UAV Development Association deemed the proposal unfeasible.
The revised proposal would give the CAA sole authority to draft regulations governing drone operations.
The proposal would stipulate that people operating drones weighing above 25kg must obtain a license, and have the machines registered and inspected by the agency.
People operating drones weighing less than 25kg would not need a license, but they would have to register the machines with the agency.
The CAA, the Aviation Police Bureau and the military would ensure that all airports, restricted areas inside and outside airports, as well as the airspace 120m above the airports are cleared of illegal drones, according to the proposal.
Local government officials would be responsible for determining which areas are open or closed to UAV operations, the CAA said, adding that local police officers would be authorized to crack down on illegal operators.
Individuals or organizations seeking to operate drones in restricted areas listed by the CAA or local governments must request special permission from the authorities.
The proposed amendment would employ different approaches to regulate drones operated by individuals, businesses, academic institutions and government agencies.
Fines for illegal drone operations would also vary, depending on the type of violation.
For instance, drone operators who endanger aviation safety would be fined between NT$300,000 and NT$1.5 million, while those operating without a license would be fined between NT$60,000 and NT$300,000.
The CAA said it would create a mobile application detailing areas across the nation in which drone operations are permitted.
People would also be able to use the app’s global positioning function to find out if they are operating in no-drone zones, the CAA added.
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