Anti-Drone Regulations: NCAA Will Send Nigeria To The Stone Age

Elbit Systems

Something embarrassing happened last week. It is an embarrassment for Nigeria as a whole. The NCAA is the one behind it.

Last week, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA gave out a statement to regulate the use of drone. The press release was titled “NCAA ISSUES SAFETY GUIDELINES FOR DRONE OPERATORS”. From its denotative interpretation, you would think the agency is taking a proactive steps to prevent any harm to privacy and security of lives and property  that may arise from the use of drones in country.

It turns out that the NCAA came out with a shocker for Nigerians including young ones who are looking at trying out their hands on how to build a drone with their emerging talents.

Here goes the statement:

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has taken cognisance of the growing requests for the use of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) leading to its proliferation in Nigeria and has therefore issued safety guidelines accordingly.

In recent times, RPA/UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) are being deployed for commercial and recreational purposes in the country without adequate security clearance. Therefore with the preponderance of these operations particularly in a non – segregated airspace, there has to be proactive safety guidelines.

The development of the use of RPA nationwide has emerged with somewhat predictable safety concerns and security threats. The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) is yet to publish Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs), as far as certification and operation of civil use of RPA is concerned.

NCAA has therefore put in place Regulations/Advisory Circular to guide the certification and operations of civil RPA in the Nigerian airspace. This is contained in the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig.CARs 2015 Part 8.8.1.33) and Implementing Standards (Nig.CARs 2015 Part IS.8.8.1.33).

Therefore no government agency, organisation or an individual will launch an RPA/UAV in the Nigerian airspace for any purpose whatsoever without obtaining requisite approvals/permit from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and Office of National Security Adviser (NSA).

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) wishes to reiterate that all applicants and holders of permits to operate RPA/Drones must strictly be guided by safety guidelines.

In addition, operators must ensure strict compliance with the conditions stipulated in their permits and the requirements of the Nig.CARs. Violators shall be sanctioned according to the dictates of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig.CARs).

In essence, the NCAA wants everyone to get permission before flying a drone. However, when the requirement for the permission was requested, the NCAA will be subjecting all drone users to the same requirements that commercial airlines follow to get licenses.

Apart from submitting series of documents, all applicants must pay the following fees:

(h)     Receipt of payment of N500,000.00 (five hundred thousand Naira) non-refundable processing   fee. (Bank Draft made payable to the NIGERIAN CIVIL AVIATION AUTHORITY).

3.     PUBLICATION IN THE OFFICIAL GAZETTE

        The Authority will in the process of carrying out the technical evaluation of the application cause the notice of application to be published in the Official Government Gazette, the fee of which shall be borne by the applicant.

  1. SECURITY CLEARANCE

        No person shall operate an aircraft in Nigeria without security clearance issued by the Government. Applicants duly completed Personal History Statement (PHS) forms and other relevant documents will be forwarded by the Authority to the Ministry responsible for Aviation for purpose of security clearance. The Directors of the company are expected to report at the Headquarters of the State Security Service in Abuja for documentation.

  1. VALIDITY OF PERMIT

The validity of a Permit shall be three (3) years.

6.      ANNUAL UTILIZATION FEE

Upon receipt of PAAS, an annual utilization fee of N100,000.00 shall be paid to the Authority.

If the NCAA is allowed to go ahead with such mockery, Nigeria might be stamping its position as one of the most innovation-averse country in the world.

Drones are not just toys used by jobless people, they are now a sine qua non for Nigeria’s fast growing film and music industry. Nigerian films now premiere at local cinemas because the production has been improved with good tools which drone is a major leverage. Drones can be used by farmers to monitor their farms, by emergency workers to deliver life saving medications, by eCommerce companies to deliver packages. The list is endless.

If the NCAA wants to raise revenue for the government, there other ways of doing it. If America can charge about USD 5 for a license to use drone, then we are retarding our development and exposure. Young people who play with ideas of building drones with no support from Nigeria’s billionaires and politicians will be discouraged to bury the ideas because they cannot get permits to even test their experiments.

With huge unemployment, low productivity and mass youth restiveness, such regulation will only aggravate these problems. The NCAA and other government agents should not be complicating Nigeria’s problem.

 

1 thought on “Anti-Drone Regulations: NCAA Will Send Nigeria To The Stone Age

  1. I agree. As a lecturer, i wanted to get a phantom 4 pro to enhance the performance of my students studying urban and regional planning design as well as photogrammetry and model making as a course in urban and regional planning of Yaba College of Technology. That dream is chattered when I read the cumbersome bureaucratic process involved in getting drone permission and the ridiculous amount attached to the registration. It is indeed painful for me.

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