The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) has received the go-ahead to operationalise the Civil Aviation (Regulatory Fees and Charges for Unmanned Aircraft Systems) Regulations, 2020 after they were acceded to by the National Assembly on 6 March 2021.
The proposed charges had been gazetted by the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing, Urban Development and Public Works, Mr James W. Macharia under Legal Notice No. 4 of 2021 on 22 January 2021.
The approval of the Civil Aviation (Regulatory Fees and Charges for Unmanned Aircraft Systems) Regulations, 2020 paves the way for full implementation of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) regulatory framework in Kenya. These charges are a reduction from the revoked rates under the Kenya Civil Aviation (Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems) Regulations, 2017.
Under the new cost structure, Kenyans and entities wishing to own and operate Unmanned Aircraft Systems popularly known as drones, will now pay a Ksh3,000 registration fee.
Kenya Civil Aviation Authority Director General, Capt. Gilbert Kibe, said the gazettement of the Regulations heralded a new era in the country’s aviation ecosystem by opening up the sector to innovations.
“Innovation in Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) has been accelerating at such an exponential rate. The capabilities of this technology are limitless – from the positives such as filming movies, documentaries, sports, weddings and delivering medicines,” said Kibe.
Individuals or entities that have already imported drones are encouraged to apply to the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority for registration and approval to lawfully engage in safe and secure drone operations of all types which could include precision agriculture, wildlife management, inspection of power grid, building, dams, solar inspection, research, crop spraying and data collection, forest management, road traffic monitoring and surveillance and aerial mapping.
The Civil Aviation (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) Regulations, 2020 categorises drones based on the risks posed by their operations, from low risks to high risks under categories, A, B and C. The purpose of the UAS, and risk to public safety and security form the basis for consideration by the Authority in registering, issuing of approvals and authorizations for operations.
Additionally, KCAA will be undertaking public sensitisation on the application and implication of the regulations.
In November 2019, the KCAA (Kenya Civil Aviation Authority) banned the use of drones in Kenya. At the time, anyone caught flouting the ban would be jailed for up to one year or pay a fine of up to Ksh100,000. Recently, the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Authority relaxed the rules on the ban.