Colombia’s civil aviation authority has released Circular 002, published in Official Diary #49.624 that sets out the regulations for operating drones, known formally as Aeronaves Pilotadas a Distancia (Airships Piloted from a Distance) within Colombian airspace.
Primary guidelines insist that civilian drones, also called RPA (Remotely Piloted Aircraft) may not weigh more than 25 kilograms, they must be equipped with autopilot and GPS, their propulsion may not be overly noisy or polluting, propellers or rotors may not be metallic, and they need to have a nameplate identifying the operator in case of accident or violation.
Civilian drones in Colombia, according to the Aerocivil regulations, may not fly over congested areas, buildings or gatherings during bad weather conditions, strong winds, or outside of visual observation of the operator. They may not be flown in aviation corridors, at night, nor may they operate within 1.8 miles of government installations, political offices, military, police, or penal facilities, among others. Drones may not fly at altitudes more than 152 meters AGL (Above Ground Level), or more than 0.75 kilometers distant from the operator. They may not transport animals, psychoactive substances, weapons, or other dangerous materials.
Perhaps most notably, commercial drone operators within Colombia must have 40 hours of logged flight instruction, 200 takeoffs and landings, which are certified by an instruction facility authorized by Aeronáutica Civil. Those who wish to use drones for commercial purposes must obtain permission from Aeronáutica Civil. Violations will result in criminal and / or civil penalties.
Certain “social” uses of drones, even by businesses or organizations, do not fall under the commercial restriction, says Freddy Augusto Bonilla Herrera, Colombia’s Secretary of Aviation Security, in a 17 minute long question-and-answer video (in Spanish). Bonilla explains the new regulations, and what exemptions exist. Aeronáutica Civil will continue to monitor noncommercial usage of drones to determine if additional regulations are necessary. According to Bonilla, certain noncommercial “social” uses include firefighting, forestry observation, volcanic and flood monitoring, road traffic observation, among others. Drones with cameras may only be used over authorized property, and may not invade upon anyone’s privacy, he said.
Drones like the one above may not be used by civilians in Colombia. (Photo courtesy courtesy of Skeeze – Pixabay)