What You Should Know Before Operating a Drone In Kenya

Drones
[PHOTO/ COURTESY]

Drone operations have spurred innovation within the aviation industry globally. In Kenya, drones have captured the interest of individuals and orgamisations alike, for leisure and commercial use.

While there still remain concerns such as safety and security issues, the aviation sub-sector is bound for exponential growth and expansion. In line with this, there are certain guidelines that one needs to abide by, to legally import, own and operate a drone either as an individual or as an entity.

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), popularly known as drones, are subject to regulatory scrutiny from the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) under the Civil Aviation (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) Regulations, 2020.

Charges for Owning/Bringing a Drone to Kenya

Citizens, residents, businesses, and governments can own a drone in Kenya. Under the new regulations, the operation of a drone with the Kenyan airspace needs one to register it with KCAA for Ksh 3,000.

Foreign nationals cannot own a drone in Kenya. They are however allowed to lease a drone locally for the duration of time they shall be in the country, or apply to the Authority prior to their visit for a 30-day temporary permit at a Ksh 20,000 fee.

It is also worth noting that drone ownership cannot be transferred without the approval of KCAA. The purpose of the UAS, and risk to public safety and security form the basis for consideration by the Authority in registering, issuing of approvals and authorizations for operations.

Rules of Operation

The Civil Aviation (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) Regulations, 2020 categorises drones based on the risks posed by their operations, from low risks to high risks under categories, A, B and C:

  • Category A: low risk (up to 25 kg)
  • Category B: medium, normal risk
  • Category C: high risk

An operator will require a Remote Pilot License for drone flights in categories B and C. The low-risk drones require registration, a permit certificate, and compliance with rules that state that:

  • One cannot fly a drone above 400 feet Above Ground Level (AGL) or within 164 feet (50 meters) of any person, vessel, or vehicle that is not a part of the operation
  • Flying a drone in non-visual meteorological conditions or at night is prohibited unless authorized by KCAA
  • Operating a UAS over or along public roads at a distance of less than 164 feet (50 meters) is not permitted
  • An operator shall not use public roads as take-off or landing places.

Charges levied to drone owners will therefore vary based on the drone’s categorization as well as its use. Below are the charges stipulated under the Civil Aviation (Regulatory Fees and Charges for Unmanned Aircraft Systems) Regulations, 2020, that KCAA will use to determine the costs required for one to operate a drone locally.

No.ServiceCharges (KSh.)
A.UAS IMPORT & REGISTRATION 
Issuance of Import Permit3,000
Registration3,000
Certificate of Deregistration or Cancellation2,000
Reservation of special Registration Marks Series10,000
Copy of the UAS Register3,000
Change of ownership2,500
Amendment of a certificate of registration2,000
Issuance of temporary permit20,000
   
B.Airworthiness 
Issue of Certificate of Airworthiness5,000
C.Remote Air Operator Certificate (ROC) 
Initial issue80,000
Renewal of ROC50,000
Amendments of ROC5,000
Addition of UAS to the ROC.2,000
Inclusion of new UAS Type10,000
Approval of manuals.5,000
   
D.TRAINING ORGANIZATION 
Training organization approval80,000
Renewal of ATOs certificate50,000
Modification/Amendment of Approval5,000
   
E.CERTIFICATION OF UAS RESALERS AND DISTRIBUTORS 
Initial issue80,000
Renewal50,000
Modification/Amendment of Approval5,000
E.AUTHORIZATIONS 
Operation authorizations            Category A Category B & C2,000
2,500
Overflight permit10,000
F.LICENSING 
Issue of SRPL2,000
Issue of RPL4,000
Beyond Visual Line of Sight (B-VLOS) Rating2,000
Extended Visual Line of Sight (E-VLOS) Rating2,000
RPA Observer Certificate2,000
RPA Certificate (for class A operations)2,000
Renewal of RPL2,000
Instructor rating for RPL3,000
Radio telephone exam2,000

If the drone shall be used for commercial purposes, the Remote Aircraft Operators Certificate must be applied 90 days in advance. The authority can also suspend a drone license or cancel it in the interest of public safety or national security, or for violating requirements and conditions.

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