Ministry to regulate use of aerial drones

Ministry to regulate use of aerial drones

The government is cracking down on drones intended to spy on others or which fly too high, threatening public safety.

The Transport Ministry is drawing up rules and will enforce them from next month.

Transport Minister Prajin Juntong said he has instructed the Civil Aviation Department to issue regulations under the Air Navigation Act.

The regulations will govern the use of drones to ensure the unmanned aerial vehicles do not affect air traffic safety or intrude on people's privacy.

ACM Prajin said drones are often found to have been fitted with cameras and are set aloft to spy on others.

ACM Prajin said regulations will apply to two types of drones.

The first type is drones that are used in sports, education and research to aid the country's development.

These drones do not fly too high, so specific areas may be designated for their flight paths, he said.

The second type are personal drones and must be strictly controlled, because they can fly at great heights and can violate others' rights.

They also affect air traffic safety and threaten national security, ACM Prajin said.

Civil Aviation Department director-general Somchai Phiphutwat said the department is working on the regulations.

They will stipulate the weight and size requirements for drones, Mr Somchai said.

Fuel amount requirements for drones will also be set as they should not fly for more than one hour or they will disturb air traffic, he said.

Under the regulations, the public will not be allowed to fly drones fitted with cameras.

Drones carrying cameras will be permitted only for businesses that require photography, such as for members of the mass media or the film-making industry, Mr Somchai said.

The regulations will require drones to fly at a height of between 15m and 150m to avoid disrupting commercial planes, which usually fly at altitudes of at least 305m.

He said the regulations should also prevent drones from flying too low, which can affect residential houses, Mr Somchai said.

He also said operators must seek permission directly from the Transport Minister before they fly their drones.

The penalties for unauthorised use of drones will be a one-year jail term and a fine of 40,000 baht, Mr Somchai said.

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