QCOSTARICA – Regulations concerning the operation (flying) of drones in Costa Rica require persons or companies to obtain a permit and a license, that is both costly and time-consuming and be subject to fines of up ¢8.4 million colones for a violation.
The Dirección General de Aviación Civil (DGAC) – Civil Aviation – on Thursday announced that companies wanting to operate drones in the country must obtain a permit (no limit on the number of drones) at a cost of US$1,874 dollars.
For individuals who want fly their drone for non-commercial purposes, they are not required to obtain a permit, but have to get commercial pilot license at any flight school authorized by Civil Aviation. The licensing consists of 48 theoretical hours and 10 practical hours, taught by flight schools and drone manufacturers approved by the DGAC.
The license is will be required by all those flying drones for business or recreational use.
The measure aims to regulate the use of these devices in Costa Rican airspace, avoid improper or mischievous use, such as flying over prohibited air space such as where mass crowds gather or near airports.
“Initially, we saw (drones) as a toy, but began to see many drones arriving, we started seeing drones in areas where flying aircraft were not allowed and we realized that we have to include drones in the regulation of airspace,” said Federico Chavarria, of the Consejo Técnico de Aviación Civil (Cetac) – Technical Council of Civil Aviation.
Chavarria acknowledged that the Cetac does not have sufficient tools to detect rule violations and punish offenders. “We are starting; if you (people) help us, we will appreciate it,” Chavarria said.
Civil Aviation will be taking complaints on its website.
Among the regulations is a ceiling fly limit of 120 metres and not closer than 8 kilometres from an airport. For people who want to fly their drone for recreational purposes, the aircraft cannot weigh more than 25 kgs, not be paid for their service or affect the privacy of others, such as flying within 30 metres of homes or offices.
Some of the restricted areas in the regulations include: La Reforma prison, in San Rafael de Alajuela; Casa Presidencial (govenrment house) in Zapote; Ministerio de Seguridad Pública (ministry of Security), in barrio Córdoba, San José; Arenal volcano, in San Carlos; Paso de La Palma, in the Zurquí; and the Murciélago police training centre, in La Cruz, Guanacaste.
Individuals and companies who violate the regulations will be subject to a fine of up to 20 base monthly salaries of a Poder Judicial employee (currently about ¢424.200).
Although Aviacion Civil made the announcement Thursday, the regulations do not go in effect immediately, Aviacion plans to have them in place by the end of the year.
Exempt from the regulations are the Laboratorio Nacional de Materiales y Modelos Estructurales (Lanamme) and the Cuerpo de Bomberos (Fire Department).
Drones currently being sold in Costa Rica range from ¢50,000 to ¢100,000. More sophisticated and costlier units are purchased abroad and imported by individuals and companies.
The following infograph produced by La Nacion, based on Aviacion Civil regulation, indicates some of the restricted uses in the country:
Additional infograph of restricted uses by Amelia Rueda:
Sources: La Nacion, Ameliarueda.com