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Jamaica Sets Rules For UAV Flights

Commercial Operators Must Apply For A Special Certificate From Civil Aviation Authority

The Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority (JCAA) has set guidelines for the use of UAVs in the island nation. The guidelines apply to all categories of operators, including Recreational UAV operators or Hobbyists – i.e. persons who operate model aircraft or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for recreational purposes, and professional (commercial & non-commercial) operators – i.e. persons or companies which operate Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for non-recreational purposes, including business-related activities such as, but not  limited to, aerial photography, surveillance, geometric surveys, power line inspections, crop observations  and research and development.

UAVs flown by hobbyists are prohibited from operating at a height exceeding 400 feet above ground level, or beyond a maximum range of 1640 feet. They may also not be operated beyond the sight of the person flying the aircraft, or using a First Person View (FPV) or computer-aided visual of the UAV.

Additionally, UAVs may not be flown over or within 500 feet of an organized open-air assembly of people, or over or within 165 feet of any person. However, during take-off and landing, the aircraft may be flown within 165 feet, but no less than 100 feet of any person. These stipulations do not apply to the person in control of the aircraft.

Non-commercial users are also prevented from flying an aircraft over a private property or dwelling, without prior permission; within 16,500 feet of any aerodrome or rotorcraft designated landing zones, such as helipads.

Pilots are required to assure that their aircraft are in good working order. They may not be operated autonomously or on pre-programmed automatic flights; at night or during low visibility conditions; with the intention of dropping or discharging any items to the ground; or within or over restricted or prohibited airspace.

All professional operators must apply to the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority (JCAA) for a Special Aerial
Work Permit before each flight. All entities or persons wishing to operate a UAV, as referenced in this paragraph, shall:

  • apply to the JCAA in writing for approval, providing all details of the intended operation
  • not fly the aircraft, unless written permission has been received from the Authority, stating any applicable restrictions or conditions.

Having received approval, the professional operator must observe and comply with all the conditions included in the permit, in order to exercise the authority provided to operate a UAV.

FMI: www.jcaa.gov.jm/NEWS_UPDATES/JCAA%20notice(3colx33cm)%2024.04.15.pdf

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