Govt designates restricted zones for drone flight

Kathmandu, February 17

The Ministry of Home Affairs has approved the Drone (Remotely Piloted Aircraft) Flight Procedure to regulate increased use of drones in various sectors.

With the fast-pace development of information technology worldwide, drone and flying cameras are used in agriculture, education, health, forest, environment, geography, arts and culture, entertainment, development and disaster management, security and mass media for research and study, information collection, survey, mapping, movie filming and preparation of other audio-visual materials.

The procedure aims to regulate the drone flight in accordance with the law and make its use easier. It also comes in view of apparent threats to security from haphazard use of unmanned aerial vehicle. According to the procedure, any flying equipment to be used for any purpose should be registered with the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal for obtaining its unique identification number. For this, the concerned person or organisation shall submit an application, accompanied by necessary documents, to the CAAN.

The drones have been classified into four categories on the basis of their structure and maximum take-off weight. As per the procedure, one should obtain permission from the concerned district administration office to fly a drone 200 feet above ground level. In the case of AGL more than 200 feet, permission shall be obtained from the MoHA. The validity period of the licence shall be three months and may be renewed for another three months.

Permission is not required for any academic research centre or university to fly drones weighing two kg in 200 feet AGL within its premises. However, it should provide information to the nearest police office. Similarly, one should not obtain permission to fly a drone 50 feet AGL for recreational purpose, ceremony, cultural and religious programme.

The air-route and the area of five kilometres around the airport and horizontal distance up to five kilometres on the international border have been designated as prohibited zone for drone flight.

Similarly, flying drone is prohibited in Maitighar Mandala, Swoyambhunath, Pashupatinath, Bouddhanath, Budhanilkantha, Durbar Square areas (Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan), religious and archaeological areas, Singha Durbar area, within their aerial radius distance and residence of the president, vice-president and prime minister, around 1,000 metres of the office of Nepali Army and 500 metres of other security agencies.

No one will be allowed to use drones to cause disturbance to the peace, security and privacy of persons. Security agencies have been authorised to confiscate UAVs flown in prohibited areas and take action against their operators.

The MoHA may depute a team to field to monitor drone flight to ascertain whether or not any licencee has followed the terms and conditions referred to in the procedure.

If anyone uses drones in contravention of  the provisions referred to in this procedure, the government will initiate action against them  under the Civil Aviation Authority Act, 1996 and the Electronic Transactions Act, 2008.