BASSETERRE, St. Kitts -– Legislation will soon be put in place to regulate the operation of unmanned aircraft, which can pose risks to privacy, safety and security, according to Senior Civil Aviation Officer, Royston Griffin.
“It is now common to see drones buzzing across the Federation’s skies freely taking pictures and videos,” said Griffin. “Several meetings have already been held with the different stakeholders including the Police and Customs, to put 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 instruments. Anyone who has a drone, will soon have to register it,” said Griffin. “After registering those drones, there are certain guidelines that they have to comply with in terms of operation, whether it’s commercial or private use.”
The senior civil aviation officer stated there will be areas where flying drones will be prohibited.
“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,” said Griffin. “There will be an account and tracking of persons who own a drone.
“The owner would have to communicate with the Control Tower, said Griffin, adding that there will also be drone insurance as the out of control equipment can damage property.
He said people will be required to have training in how to operate drones.
“A 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,” explained Griffin. “There have been reports of drones invading peoples’ privacy.
“There have been cases reported of people laying by their pools and a drone has flown over taking pictures. That is why we have restrictions about drone use.
“When operators ask to use drones in St. Kitts if it isn’t in collaboration with the Tourism Department or a local person doing business it is of concern,” said Griffin. “I don’t know what you are going to do with the image. You could sell it or use it for an activity that can hurt the state. We have to be very careful about authorizing people to fly drones.”