Top 5 questions Curaçao residents ask about drones
Originally, the term 'drone' referred to types of unmanned aircraft (aeroplanes, helicopters, balloons, etcetera) pre-programmed with a flight plan. Nowadays the terms includes all types of unmanned machines, like robots, submarines and off-road vehicles.
The most common drone however, is the aerial (flying) one, with the distinction being made between Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) and autonomous aircraft. An RPA is flown by a pilot located at a ground control station, while the autonomous aircraft flies without human intervention according to a flight plan, possibly using automation systems. Many newer drones can be operated both ways.
Here are some of the questions people frequently ask the CCAA when it comes to drone usage on Curaçao:
How can I register my drone?
Two parties are involved in the registration of RPA’s: the CCAA and BTP (Bureau Telecommunicatie and Post), with the latter being primarily concerned with communication system frequencies not interfering previously established channels (those used for cellular telephone communication, for instance).
Drones entering the country will be held by customs until the owner/operator has submitted the RPA Registration Form (download here) and has visited both the CCAA and BTP offices for a briefing.
Local vendors of RPA have been informed of the procedure and are instructed to direct their customers to the appropriate authorities.
Where can I fly my drone?
It depends on whether you are a recreational drone operator, or use an RPA for business purposes. In the first case, the approved sites for flying a drone are:
- the Curaçao Radio Control Club field at Playa Canoa (with prior consent!)
- privately owned terrains (either by the operator, or, with prior consent, a third party) without obstructions in the take-off and landing path
In the second case, an RPA operator adhering to the guidelines can fly anywhere for business purposes, except for several prohibited and restricted areas:
What if I am stalked by a drone?
Your privacy is protected by law. In September 2010 the Curaçao Government enacted the Personal Information Privacy Act (‘Landsverordening Bescherming Persoonsgegevens’, AB 2010 no. 84). This law is applicable to any personal information gathered by, or with the use of a drone. In addition, our Penal Code gives protection to citizens of Curaçao against stalking by way of a drone.
By doing public outreach and drafting regulations, the CCAA creates awareness amongst drone operators that the right to privacy of each citizen must be respected at all times.
Can I use my drone for business purposes?
Yes, you can. Operational guidelines put in place for recreational use (which you can read below), apply to drones employed by businesses as well. The approved flight sites for recreational drones do not apply, but the prohibited and restricted areas do.
In addition, the business (operator of the drone) is liable for any damages caused by the flight operations with the RPA, and needs to be covered by third party liability insurance for all its flight operations.
What else do I need to know to fly a drone?
The CCAA has drawn up the following operating guidelines for registered drone users:
- The pilot is responsible for the safe conduct of each flight and is thus responsible for avoiding collisions with other objects including other aircraft;
- The pilot must check, before each flight, that the drone is not damaged and that all components are working in accordance with the RPA User Manual and must operate the RPA i.a.w. the procedures and (not exceed any) limitations mentioned in the RPA User Manual;
- All flights must be conducted within line-of-sight of the RPA pilot;
- Use of First Person View (FPV) does not relieve the pilot of the requirement to maintain visual line-of-sight contact with the RPA. In case the pilot is flying the RPA thru the use of FPV, another observer must be employed to maintain visual line-of-sight contact with the RPA;
- All flight operations are to be conducted at one of the following sites:
- The Curaçao Radio Control Club (CRCC) field at Playa Canoa, with prior consent of the CRCC management;
- A terrain owned by RPA pilot/owner without obstructions in the take-off and landing path; or
- Any other privately owned terrain (without obstructions in the take-off and landing path) with prior consent of the owner(s).
- No operation is to exceed 400 feet (120m) of altitude displayed by the control system of the RPA (if available);
- No operation directly above the heads of persons;
- Avoid flying over congested areas like cities or towns and do not fly within 50m of buildings, structures, vehicles or persons;
- The prohibited/restricted areas established on Curaçao (see above) are also in effect for RPA operations, including Curaçao International Airport; Any operations within these areas must have prior approval of the CCAA;
- The privacy of persons and the properties belonging to these persons must be respected at all times; The Authority encourages you to first make contact with these persons and get their approval before any flying/filming/photographing is done of themselves and/or their properties; and
- Be mindful of the weather and do not fly your RPA in rainy, stormy weather or during periods of very low visibility or high winds.
What does the CCAA do to regulate the use of drones?
In addition to the activities explained above, the Safety Inspectorate of the CCAA is in the process of drafting an official regulation for the use of drones, in line with international best practices.
You can read more about Curaçao’s drone regulation here.
The CCAA aims to provide residents and businesses with clear information and rules around the use of drones, while regulation is being drafted. Download our drone flyer here, and should you have any additional questions, please use the form below.
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