First South African Company Approved For Commercial Drone License

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Written by Dana Sanchez

A South African company specializing in aerial data solutions announced Tuesday that it is has been approved as a commercial remote piloted aircraft systems operator — a first for the South African Civil Aviation Authority, according to MyBroadband.

Rocketmine, a division of Public Display Technologies, is the first commercial drone operator approved for several key South African business sectors including mining, agriculture, construction, forestry and insurance, EngineeringNews reported.

The company was a first mover in pushing for drone regulations, according to Albert Msithini with the South African Civil Aviation Authority. It was “among the first organisations that regularly engaged the SACAA with regards to development and promulgation of the (remote piloted aircraft systems) RPAS regulations.”

South Africa took a global lead in the aviation industry when it announced that the commercial use of drones would be regulated from July 1‚ 2015.

There’s a huge demand for the commercial use of drones in South Africa, said Chris Clark with Rocketmine.

“There is no doubt that drones are set to revolutionize the way in which many key industries in South Africa conduct their business,” he said.

“Using drones to conduct operational duties has produced high quality data in a fraction of the time and at a percentage of the costs. In the mining industry in particular‚ most high-risk tasks conducted by our drones have eliminated the safety risk for mining staff.”

South Africa is one of a handful of countries that have introduced comprehensive regulations to guide drone operations, according to DefenceWeb.

In the first two months after South Africa’s new drone regulations were instituted, the aviation authority registered 118 drones, issued 10 remote pilot licences and received 10 applications for drone training organisations.

In September, Gauteng-based ProWings Training became the first flying school in South Africa approved as a commercial drone training organisation.

The first drone pilot’s license in South Africa, Africa and most of the world was issued to Nicole Swart July 10, DefenceWeb reported.

Many countries including the U.S. are still trying to come up with drone regulations, although the U.S. is one of the heaviest drone users for military and rescue operations.

Hurricane Katrina in 2005 saw the first deployment of drones in a disaster, setting the stage for drone deployments from Fukushima to the Nepal earthquake, according to a report in Space.com.

Katrina also contributed to policy changes that affect how drones deploy in disasters but when the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration “clarified” the certificate of authorization requirement for drones in 2006, they created restrictions for civilian flights that remain controversial to this day.

Check out this video of the Cheetahs Volunteer Southern Africa Project. Volunteers used a drone to help teach cheetahs in captivity to chase after live prey.