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A new GoPro Karma foldable drone is seen flying during a press event in Olympic Valley, California on September 19, 2016. / AFP / JOSH EDELSON (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Basseterre, St. Kitts, January 30, 2019 (SKNIS): It is now common to see drones buzzing across the Federation’s skies freely taking pictures and videos. However, according to Royston Griffin, Senior Civil Aviation Officer, who appeared on the radio-television programme “Working for You” on January 30, legislation will soon be put in place to regulate the operations of the unmanned aircrafts, which can pose risks to privacy, safety and security.  

Mr. Griffin stated that several meetings have already been held with the different stakeholders including the Police, Customs, to put the draft legislation together to ensure that they are keeping the guidelines from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) about how to handle drones.

“We recognized, after we have done a risk assessment some time ago, drones are very serious pieces of instruments, and part of it is that anyone out there who has a drone, shortly would have to register the drone,” said Mr. Griffin. “After registering those drones, there are certain guidelines that they have to comply with in terms of operating the drones, whether it’s commercial or for private use.”

The senior civil aviation officer stated that there will be areas that will be prohibited from flying. There will also be a policy that states when a person orders a drone, he or she cannot clear the drone from Customs unless it is registered. There will be an account and tracking of persons who own a drone.

Also, in terms of use, the owner would have to communicate with the control tower, said Mr. Griffin, adding that there will also be drone insurance as the out of control equipment can damage property.   

Persons would also be required to have training in using drones. The drone cannot operate without being in line of sight because “a drone is not just a toy, it could be a weapon at the same time,” he said.

Mr. Griffin stated that there have been reports of drones invading persons’ privacy.

“There have been reported cases that people are by their pools lying down and there is a drone over the pool taking pictures,” he said. “That is why we kind of have restrictions when drone operators from outside ask for drones to be used in St. Kitts because as long as it’s not in collaboration with tourism department or a local person doing business then it is a concern because I don’t know what you are going to do with the image. You could sell it or use it for other activity that can hurt the state. So you have to be very careful of authorizing people into flying drones.”

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