African experts discuss harmonizing drone regulation

Source: Xinhua| 2017-11-15 03:43:13|Editor: Zhou Xin
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KIGALI, Nov. 14 (Xinhua) -- Aviation experts from Africa on Tuesday met in Rwandan capital Kigali to discuss harmonizing regulation of drones.

The experts are gathered at a three-day workshop on Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems, organized by the International Civil Aviation Organization, Eastern and South African Office (ICAO ESAF).

The workshop drew 60 participants from aviation authorities and air navigation sector of 14 eastern and southern African countries, as well as Niger.

The participants will discuss challenges of incorporating drones in the daily activities and avoiding accidents faced by aviation regulators, air navigation service providers and operators.

Speaking at the event, Rwandan state minister for transport Jean de Dieu Uwihanganye mentioned the need to harmonize regulation given the growth of aviation industry.

He said drones have evolved in technology and usage, and are now in frequent use beyond military.

"Regulations should be put in place and implemented in response to the growing demand use of Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS)," he said.

Since 2016, every Remotely Piloted Aircraft entering Rwanda has been registered under condition that their users must be qualified, according to him.

The country in May 2016 promulgated the regulations to oversee the RPAS operations. A drone port was put up in southern Rwanda, said to be the first of its kind in Africa with drones being used to make timely blood deliveries to hospitals across the country.

The Rwandan minister called for cautious approach especially for the RPAS as drones are yet to be fully integrated into air traffic management.

Barry Kashambo, the ICAO regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, stressed the importance of drones in areas, where other mannered planes can not operate.

Projecting that there could soon be more drones in the air than normal airplanes, Kashambo said it was therefore important to equip those involved with skills, a regulatory framework, model regulations to be able to monitor drone operations.

He said harmonizing regulations is critical at global level but more importantly at regional level.