Commercial drone flyers need to have licences from this year

Commercial drone flyers need to have licences from this year

Owners of commercial drones must apply for a licence and attend flight training before the end of this year, the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) announced on Thursday.

CAAT director-general Chula Sukmanop yesterday said licensing of drone flyers was necessary to ensure public safety and security amid the growing number of drones, their advancing technology and their increasing use in commerce.

"Their highly advanced technology and affordability means drones today are widely used for recreational and commercial purposes, which poses risks to the safety of communities and commercial flights, as well as security and people's privacy. Therefore drone regulations need to be improved to meet international standards," he said.

Drone owners in Thailand are currently only required to register their devices with the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC).

About 10,000 drones are currently registered with the NBTC.

Mr Chula said under the new regulations, owners of drones used for commercial purposes will need to pass training and exams at an accredited institute to get a licence.

He said the CAAT will work with the Defence Technology Institute (DTI) to create a model academy for drone flyer training.

The new institution will offer high-standard flying courses to lay the foundations for the development and oversight of the drone industry and flying in Thailand, he added.

"The CAAT will soon hold a public hearing on the new rules and we expect them to be in force by the end of this year," he said.

Meanwhile, the CAAT also plans this year to allow medical transport helicopters to land at the site of accidents in a bid to improve the survival rate of heart-attack, stroke and accident victims.

"Currently, helicopters used in emergency medical services in Thailand can only land at heliports or approved sites. From March 1 this year, this restriction will be unlocked, allowing medical helicopters to rescue patients anywhere," he said.

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