18 myths about SA's new drone laws


Honorary Master
May 4, 2012
Sounds like a lot of marketing BS to me:

3. A Medical Class 4 is Required to Fly a Drone

The new drone regulations allow for medical self assessment, and do not require a medical certificate for drones smaller than 20kg (larger than 20kg is not yet possible).

If you need to fly B-VLOS (beyond visual line of sight) or if you fail the medical self assessment, then only do you need to do a full medical class 4. But for the majority of drone pilots: simply complete the self assessment.
What is medical self assessment and how does one complete it? How do you fail it? What does medicine have to do with drones in any case?

4. The Requirement for English Language Proficiency is Racist and Stupid

English is the standard language required in aviation world-wide. The test is done to ensure you are able to communicate in English.
Even in countries where English isn't even an official language? I doubt that is the case. It may be true for international flying but with national flights I doubt all pilots in all countries speak English.

7. No Flying Closer Than 10km from Airports – Rules Out Most Towns and Cities

The regulations allow commercial pilots with an air band radio, and approved ROC to fly closer than 10km from airports, provided they communicate with the ATC in controlled airspace. Commercial drone operations will be able to get special permission to fly close to airports to accomplish their work.

Private drone pilots will not be able to fly closer than 10km from an airport, even if the airport gives them permission.
Sounds like double speak to me. The effect is still that non-commercial pilots can't operate in most town and cities.

8. Drones can Fly up to 400 Feet above the Ground

All private drones may only fly under RVLOS, which is a bit more restrictive than VLOS. RVLOS means the private drone may only fly as high as the highest object within 300m lateral distance of the drone. In other words: as high as the trees or towers in the area.

Only commercial drone pilots can fly in VLOS (up to 400 feet AGL).
A bit more restrictive is an understatement. So if you are in an open field with nothing near you effectively can't even fly it even though it's safer and you can see more clearly.

11. A Drone is Just a Model Aircraft with a Camera on it

Many drones do not have cameras. Simply removing the camera from a drone does not suddenly make it a model aircraft. The key difference between a drone (RPAS) and a model aircraft is what it is used for.
Doesn't seem to have a clear distinction then. If use determines it then most drones are actually used as model aircraft and model aircraft can be classified as drones based on use.

12. An RC Helicopter or RC Airplane Cannot Be a Drone – Model Aircraft Have Been Around for Many Years

The regulations clearly define RPAS (drones) as separate from model aircraft. Three types of drone pilot licences are available: Multirotor Drones, Fixed-Wing Drones, and Helicopter Drones. The key difference between a model aircraft and an RPAS is what the intended use is.
How can they be defined separately and still be classified according to intended use?

13. Drone Regulations Are Much More Restrictive than Model Aircraft Regulations

The regulations for RPAS (drones) are much less restrictive than the regulations for model aircraft. RPAS can be operated just about anywhere (with commercial licence), and can be operated at night (model aircraft may not fly at night).
From the above it seems there are a whole bunch of places and distances where RPAs can't be operated and model aircraft can. They are then indeed much more restrictive.

15. I Will Then Simply Classify my DJI Phantom (or similar) as a “Toy”

The regulations already classify RPAS (drones), model aircraft, and toys. The DJI Phantom (or similar) certainly is an RPAS, and cannot be classified as a toy, or a model aircraft.
I thought it's classified according to use as said above?

16. The SACAA Will Never Be Able to Enforce This – Nobody is Going to Catch Me Anyway

The SACAA has indicated they have an enforcement plan, and an education plan to ensure the public and SAPS and other enforcement agencies are aware of, and empowered to enforce, the new regulations.
How will they enforce regulations that are not understandable and that they can't understand themselves? Most law enforcement will probably just go wtf when quoted this legislation and give up.

1. All Drone Operators Must Have a Pilot’s Licence

The drone operator does not need a pilot’s licence if he is operating for private or hobby use. The Remote Pilots Licence (RPL) is only required for commercial, corporate, and non-profit use. The RPL is 10-times less complex and time consuming as a PPL licence.
Based on all the restriction above all drone operators will indeed require a license to legally use a drone anywhere.


Honorary Master
Aug 7, 2003
We certainly need to keep drones very far away from airports.

This it's scary:

Drone flies within “a few hundred feet” of descending Southwest flight
The Dallas Police Department was not able to locate the drone, nor its pilot.

As a Southwest flight began its descent into Dallas Love Field on Friday, the pilot reported spotting a quadcopter drone within "a few hundred feet."

According to the Dallas Morning News, local and federal investigators have begun trying to locate the pilot.

"It was close enough to Love Field that the air traffic controller was able to see it from the tower," Lynn Lunsford, a Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman, told the newspaper.

More here.

As an aside, I'll be flying into DFW quite soon. Love Field is the other Dallas airport.