Drone Laws in Sri Lanka

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Drone Laws in Sri Lanka

UAS Regulations – Basic Guidelines for Operating Drones in Sri Lanka

The Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka (CAASL) has outlined specific guidelines and regulations for both recreational and commercial drone operations. Below, we have summarized the key points. For a comprehensive understanding, please refer to the provided link.

Drone Operation Regulations in Sri Lanka

The Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka (CAASL) permits the use of drones within the country; however, adherence to specific regulations is essential. Here, we delve into the details of these guidelines.

Key Regulations for Operating Drones in Sri Lanka

To ensure safe and responsible drone operations in Sri Lanka, it is crucial to be familiar with the following rules and regulations:

  1. Categorization of Drones: Drones in Sri Lanka are classified into four mass categories:
    • Category A: 25 kg (55 lbs) or above
    • Category B: Above 1 kg (2.2 lbs) but below 25 kg (55 lbs)
    • Category C: Above 200 g (0.44 lbs) but at or below 1 kg (2.2 lbs)
    • Category D: 200 g (0.44 lbs) or below Each category has specific compliance requirements.
  2. Authorization for Drones with Data-Capturing Sensors: Drones equipped with data capturing sensors, such as cameras, that could potentially pose safety or security threats must obtain prior authorization from the local police in the area. However, authorization is not required if the operator obtains written approval from the respective airport or operates the drone under the supervision of a CAASL-authorized person.
  3. Registration Requirements: Category A and B drones with data-collection sensors must be registered with the CAASL. Category C drones without data-collection sensors should be registered with a certified vendor. Category D drones without data-collection sensors are exempt from registration.
  4. Speed Limit: Drones must not exceed a speed of 87 knots (100 mph) during operation.
  5. Visual Line of Sight (VLOS): Remote pilots are responsible for maintaining a clear visual line of sight with their drones at all times and should be aware of their surroundings.
  6. Weather Conditions: Drone operations should not be conducted during inclement weather or when visibility is less than 5 kilometers (3 miles).
  7. Concurrent Operation: A single remote pilot may operate multiple drones simultaneously.
  8. Prohibited Platforms: Operating a drone from a moving vehicle, boat, or any other moving platforms is strictly prohibited.
  9. Right of Way: Remote pilots must always give priority to manned aircraft and other human-powered vehicles.
  10. Safe Distance: Drones should maintain a safe distance from people, birds, and property to ensure safety and avoid any potential damage.
  11. Night Operations: Drones are not allowed to operate between 20 minutes after sunset and 20 minutes before sunrise.
  12. Insurance Requirement: Category A, B, and C drones must have appropriate insurance coverage.
  13. Prohibited Territorial Waters: Operating drones within Sri Lanka’s territorial waters is prohibited without prior authorization.
  14. Restricted Airspace: Drones are not permitted to operate within Class C, D, or E airspace or within a five-mile radius of any airport without prior authorization from Air Traffic Control (ATC).

By following these regulations, drone operators can ensure safe and lawful operations within Sri Lanka’s airspace.

Registration Requirements for Drone Flying in Sri Lanka?
Drone Registration:

Drone registration is mandatory before operating a drone in Sri Lanka. To register your drone, you can utilize the CAA’s online Drone Registration system or submit the completed registration form to [email protected].

  • Validity and Renewal: An Unmanned Aircraft Registration Certificate is valid for two years and needs to be renewed every two years. It is essential for drone operators to carry their Registration Certificate during drone operations.
  • Inspection for Safety and Security: Drones equipped with sensors that may pose safety or security risks might undergo inspection by the CAASL before registration.
  • De-registration: In the event that a drone is no longer operational or will not be operated within the country anymore, it must be de-registered by notifying the Director-General of Civil Aviation.

Pilot Registration:

Remote pilots operating Category A, B, or C drones must obtain registration from the CAASL after successfully completing a Competency Check administered by the CAASL or an authorized third party.

  • Age Requirement: The operator must be at least 18 years old, unless authorized in writing by the Director-General of Civil Aviation.
  • Authorization Certificate Renewal: Remote pilots operating Category A, B, or C drones need to renew their Authorization Certificate every two years.
  • Registration Eligibility: Standard registration is available to Sri Lankan citizens, while non-citizens can apply for a Temporary Registration.

Mandatory Identification Stamp for Category A, B, and C Drones

Drones falling under Category A, B, or C in Sri Lanka are required to display an identification stamp issued by the Director-General of Civil Aviation. This identification stamp must prominently feature the following details:

  1. Registration Number: The unique registration number assigned to the drone by the authorities.
  2. Owner’s Photo Identification: A clear representation of the owner’s photo identification, ensuring proper identification and ownership verification.
  3. Emergency Contacts: Contact information for emergency situations, enabling authorities to reach out to the owner or designated contact person if necessary.

The identification stamp serves as a visual indicator of compliance and facilitates traceability, allowing authorities to identify and contact drone owners swiftly if required.

Special Regulations for Drone Operations in Sri Lanka

In addition to the general rules, there are specific regulations that drone operators must adhere to when flying in Sri Lanka:

  1. Speed Limit: Drones should not exceed 87 knots (approximately 160 km/h) during flight operations.
  2. Approval for Flights within Buildings: Prior approval from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is necessary for drone flights conducted within buildings.
  3. Prohibited Operations: Operating drones from moving vehicles (such as cars or boats) or elevated positions (e.g., rooftops) is strictly prohibited.
  4. Avoid Restricted Areas: Exercise caution and refrain from flying over roads, railways, power lines, or near communication towers. It is essential to maintain a safe distance from such infrastructure.
  5. Prohibition of Intoxicated Operation: Operating a drone while under the influence of intoxicants is strictly prohibited to ensure safety and responsible piloting.
  6. Permission for Flying Over Private Property: When flying over private property, it is important to obtain permission from the property owner to respect their privacy and property rights.
  7. Respect “No Drone Zones”: Keep a lookout for signs indicating “No Drone Zones.” These areas often have strict controls in place, and drone operations are prohibited.

Note for Foreign Operators: If you plan to import a drone into Sri Lanka, it is necessary to obtain permission and necessary clearances from multiple authorities. These include the Ministry of Defence (MOD), Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka (CAASL), Telecommunication Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL), and Import & Export Control Department. For businesses involved in drone importation, a permit from the CAASL is required. Please refer to the provided link to obtain the necessary permit.

By following these special regulations, both local and foreign operators can ensure compliance with the specific guidelines for drone operations in Sri Lanka.

Important Information for Recreational Drone Pilots in Sri Lanka

If you are flying a drone for recreational purposes in Sri Lanka, please take note of the following guidelines:

  1. Drone Registration: All drones, regardless of their weight, must be registered with the aviation authorities in Sri Lanka. However, if your drone weighs over 1,000 pounds, you will require a permit in addition to registration.
  2. Approval Entities: The following entities must provide approval for recreational drone activities:

    a. Aviation Authorities: Registration of drones should be done in coordination with the relevant aviation authorities.

    b. Deputy Chief of Defense Staff – Flight: Seek approval from the Deputy Chief of Defense Staff – Flight.

    c. Aviation Authorities Authorization: Apart from registration, ensure that you obtain appropriate authorization from the aviation authorities. This authorization is separate from the registration process.

  3. Permit Application: It is recommended that you apply for a permit at least four weeks in advance to allow sufficient time for processing.
  4. General Rules: In addition to the specific requirements mentioned above, it is essential to follow the general rules outlined earlier. However, make sure to stay updated on any changes or revisions to the regulations by regularly visiting the links provided by the regulatory authorities.

By adhering to these guidelines and staying informed about the latest regulations, recreational drone pilots can enjoy their flying activities in compliance with the rules set by the authorities in Sri Lanka.

Samudu Panditharathna Answered question June 23, 2023

Good one Nimesh. Many people don’t aware that it is needed to get permission from  particular parties to fly a drone

Samudu Panditharathna Answered question June 23, 2023