South African Woman Receives First Drone Pilot License In Africa

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Written by Kevin Mwanza

South African female pilot, Nicole Swart, 23, made history by becoming the first person in Africa to receive a drone pilot license from the new civil aviation airspace school in the country.

“The license was issued on 10 July to Nicole Swart,” said spokesperson Phindiwe Gwebu. “It makes her the first person to receive such a license in South Africa, the continent, and most parts of the world.”

Swart, who is also a testing standards officer at the South African Civil Aviation Authority, said she was getting ready for the time drones, which are now mostly used for military operations, will become “as common and necessary as cellular phones”.

“I therefore wanted to ensure that, when that time comes, I am already a step ahead. Besides, both licenses are crucial in my line of work, as the department in which I work is responsible for upholding testing standards for, among others, pilots,” Times Live quoted her saying.

Drone are increasingly being used in Africa for conservation and humanitarian purposes in conflict areas to track rebels and militant groups by the United Nations forces.

South Africa is one of a handful of countries around the world to have introduced comprehensive regulations to guide remote pilot operations.

Many countries were still formulating regulations for the administration of drones, or remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) in aviation jargon. They are controlled either from the ground or by another aircraft.

South African Civil Aviation Authority said it was currently processing approximately 10 drone pilot licenses and 15 operator ones, following regulations for drones that came into effect at the beginning of July.