Govt. lifts ban on civilian drone operations

January 18, 2020

 • Drone operations are restricted in dangerous and restricted flying zones.

 • Civil drone operators are required to obtain a prior approval from the Defence Ministry

 • CAA permits drones to operate only in the requested location and for mentioned purpose.

 • Demand for civilian drone operations are increasing

The Government, which lifted the ban on civilian drones, yesterday, is to introduce new regulations on drone operations, which was banned in the aftermath of the Easter Sunday attack in mid-April, last year.

Following the instructions of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Defence Secretary Maj.Gen. (Retd) Kamal Gunaratne has issued directives to relevant authorities to lift the ban imposed on drone operations to the pre 21 April, 2019 with immediate effect. Restrictions on drone operations were imposed under Gazette S/No. 2123/10 issued on May 13, 2019 citing security concerns.

According to instructions, the ban will continue to be restricted for drone operations in dangerous and restricted flying zones.

All civil drone operators are required to obtain a prior approval from the Defence Ministry to flying drones in all zones.

A drone, which is technically named as an unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is a flying robot that will be remotely controlled with onboard sensors and GPS, is widely used for military purposes and also for civilian activities ranging from search and rescue, surveillance, traffic monitoring, weather monitoring and firefighting. With allowing personal drones flying, it is now popular mode in photography, videography, agriculture and also delivery services.

Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Director Operations Lushan Fernando told with lifting the ban on drone operations, there will be some regulatory changes on some categories of drones prior to getting them registered in the CAA.

He said each drone operator had to get the clearance from the Defence Ministry and come to the CAA with the drone to get registered in its database.

“We have to check the drone, its weight, camera etc before granting permission. A sticker will be issued for approved drones to operate,” he said.

According to Fernando, under new regulations the drone operators will be given permission by the CAA to operate only in the requested location and also for the mentioned purpose.

“They will also be given permission to operate the drone only for the requested time period,” he said adding that there is a significant demand for flying drones from media institutions, foreigners, wedding videographers, photographers and commercial advertising companies.