Expedite issuance of drone permits, govt urged

Thursday December 12 2019

 

By Alex Malanga @ChiefMalanga amalanga@tz.nationmedia.com

Dar es Salaam. Aviation stakeholders said yesterday that delays in issuance of drones operating licences were counterproductive and a hurdle to growth of the sub-sector.

Last December, the government published the drones flying regulations that required users to obtain permits from the Ministry of Defence and the National Service as well as approval from the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA).

Speaking yesterday during the TCAA public hearing on licensing of air and ground handling Services, aviation expert John Njawa said the process was taking too long because it involved several approving independent entities.

However, regulator’s director general Hamza Johari was quick to respond saying the plan was on card to establish one-stop centre to simply the process.

Mr Njawa explained a case whereby it took a friend six months to obtain a drone operating licence.

To cut red tape, he called for the establishment of a single organisation that would register, licence and oversee drone operators.

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“The organisation should be there to ensure drones operate as per regulations,” suggested Mr Njawa.

Aviation expert and trainer Juma Fimbo shared similar sentiments that there was a need to speed up the process if the sub-sector was to have a meaningful effect.

“Delay cannot help to grow the sub-sector especially under the current environments of intense competition,” Mr Fimbo told The Citizen over telephone interview.

Reacting during the public hearing TCAA’s Johari said delay in approval processes was attributed to security reasons and that the same was happening elsewhere globally.

He said it took almost two hours to discuss the same during the International Civil Aviation Organisation (Icao)’s 40th Assembly last October.

Mr Johari added they spent three hours to discuss the matter during the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (Canso) meeting held in Madrid, Spain early this year

“Delay in issuing licence to drone operators is of our concern too. But this is just a transition period, of which we are experiencing this new practice,” admitted Mr Johari,

“With one stop centre that we plan to establish, an applicant will stand a chance to get a licence immediately.”

Depending on the type of the licence, the regulations require commercial and private drones to pay up to $100 (about Sh230,000) in registration fee.

The new regulations, which are in line with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (Icao), were meant to ensure proper oversight of ‘Unmanned Aircraft’ operations for security reason.

Normal airworthiness and operations standards do not apply to privately operate unmanned aircraft below 7 kilogrammes, but must register their drones with the authority, according to TCAA.

Recently, the regulator issued a-six month ultimatum to December 31 this year for all drone operators to have with them operating licence.