Pilots, Drone Owners Urged to Comply with COVID-19 Regulations

"Restrictions are there to stop the spread of COVID-19. It is a matter of life and death."

uav drone
uav drone copter flying with digital camera. Dmitry Kalinovsky / Shutterstock.com

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has urged aviators to comply with the regulations and directions of the Disaster Management Act aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19.

In a statement on Saturday, the Minister appealed particularly to pilots and drone owners to comply with the regulations put in place as part of South Africa’s COVID-19 national lockdown.

The Minister’s plea follows reports of a surge in the number of applications for permission to fly remotely-piloted aircraft systems (RPAS), commonly referred to as drones.

“The SA Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) had also received a handful of requests from small private aircraft owners, requesting permission to fly their aircraft for various business-related activities, including farm owners wanting to fly into various provinces to check on operations,” said Mbalula.

The Minister stressed that restrictions are in place to stop the spread of the virus.

“While these applications are being reviewed on a case-by-case basis, it is important to remember that the country is under lockdown for a reason. Restrictions are there to stop the spread of COVID-19. It is a matter of life and death.

“We cannot put lives at risk in an effort to rescue unessential business operations. If it is not deemed urgent, it must wait. We simply cannot put a price tag on human lives,” he said.

Mbalula commended cargo operators, the national Department of Health’s Port Health Services, the Department of Transport’s aviation agencies, as well as many other role players, for not only ensuring smooth operations but also for their adherence to outlined regulations and directions.

In addition, the Minister has noted daily reports which indicate that procedures, as set by various organisations, including the World Health Organisation, on disinfection and other hygiene and COVID-19 combating measures, are being followed precisely. – SAnews.gov.za

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