CAAP mulls moratorium on penalties for drones
MANILA, Philippines – The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) may put on hold penalties for drone use until the agency meets with stakeholders.
In a press conference on Thursday, January 29, CAAP Assistant Director-General Captain Beda Badiola said that moratorium is still under consideration so as not to encourage further violations of existing regulations.
Badiola also confirmed that the CAAP was crafting an update to the existing memorandum circular.
Under CAAP's Memorandum Circular No. 21 series of 2014 issued last June 26, drone owners and operators are required to register their equipment with the regulatory board and secure a certification to operate.
Depending on how grave the violation, operators will be fined P300,000 ($6,803.57) to P500,000 ($11,339.39) per unauthorized flight.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) include airplanes, powered lift devices, powered parachutes, rotorcraft, and unmanned airships.
An applicant should pass the rating required in aviation license and instrument theory examinations; complete training course on the operation of the UAV type the applicant possesses; have at least 5 hours experience operating UAVs outside controlled airspace; and have a radio operator's certificate of proficiency.
Before 2014 ended, CAAP required UAV operators and owners to obtain at least one of the 3 certifications: an air traffic control certificate, a light crew license with a command instrument training, and a military qualification.
Register your drones
Despite the planned moratorium, CAAP still requires owners of all drones intended for commercial use to register with the agency’s flight operations department.
Drones weighing under 1.5 kilograms intended for recreational use do not have to be registered but have to comply with regulations on areas where they are allowed to operate.
Existing regulations forbid their use within a 10-kilometer radius of an airport, in areas where people congregate, and over government buildings.
The CAAP views the high-profile nature of the drones confiscated during the papal visit as “providential” because it created a good awareness of the possible dangers of drone use, according to CAAP chief financial officer and retired Brigadier General Rodante Joya.
Badiola mentioned that drones confiscated during the papal visit would be returned once their operators are able to register with CAAP.
At least 7 areas in the Philippines have been declared by CAAP on January 12 as no-fly zones for commercial flights to drone during the 5-day visit of Pope Francis to the country from January 15 to 19.
Why not Clark?
Speaking of the papal visit, Pampanga Representative Joseller Guiao announced a congressional resolution on January 16 of this year, questioning CAAP and other government agencies for failing to reroute flights to Clark International Airport, 80.47 kilometers away from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
Guiao argued that there seemed to be no attempt to implement such contingency. He reminded the public that, in the past, Clark had been used as an alternative when conditions at NAIA were not safe, such as in cases of bad weather or rampant smog following New Year’s celebrations.
Because of the no-fly zone order, 300 international and domestic flights were cancelled on January 15.
Additionally, over 100 flights were cancelled on January 19 due to no-fly zone restrictions imposed.
But Joya said that some flights were indeed rerouted on January 15, 17, and 19, adding that Clark was open on such dates and securing clearance to land there was not a problem.
He pointed out that some flights were rerouted as late as 1:30 pm on the affected dates and that the pilots were given the option of diverting to either Cebu or Clark.
The flights were en route about 1,900 miles away from Manila when diverted.
He said that 3 airlines even complained since the no-fly zone was supposedly to take effect at 2 pm on those dates but explained that had they not been diverted, they would have arrived in Manila while the no-fly zone order was in effect.
But Joya stressed that ensuring air travel safety is CAAP’s mandate as included in its charter and not to force airlines to fly in Clark as proposed by Guiao. – Rappler.com
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