The growth of the Small Unmanned Aircraft industry has increased rapidly in the past few years and such aircraft, otherwise known as "Quadcopter" or "Octocopter", are widely available for sale to the general public. The rapid technological development of these devices has made them increasingly popular and has encouraged their use in a large number of commercial and private activities throughout the world.
Although largely advertised as "toy", Small Unmanned Aircraft, like "radio controlled model aircraft before them, are considered to be aircraft under the Law and as such there are Civil Aviation Regulations that apply to their use in order to ensure the safety of the general public and property that are not involved in the activity. As such, Small Unmanned Aircraft are prohibited from flying close to Airports, in congested areas, flying close to people or property, flying for commercial gain or flying beyond visual line of sight unless specific permission has been given by the Director of Civil Aviation. Essentially, the person controlling a Small Unmanned Aircraft is fully responsible for the safe operation of any flight.
As all of Gibraltar is considered a highly congested area, Small Unmanned Aircraft, including those under 250 gms, cannot be flown in Gibraltar without the permission of the Director of Civil Aviation. While this may seem somewhat draconian, the aim is to ensure that the general public is not endangered by persons operating them without proper training or awareness of the dangers posed by the activity.
To gain the DCA's permission to fly anywhere, other than the four coastal flight zones where flights are only permitted over the sea, applicants will be required to prove that they have successfully attended a recognised piloting course, have adequate insurance to cover the activity they are undertaking and have considered, and mitigated, all risks associated with the flight. In the four coastal flight zones of Caleta Bay, Sandy Bay, Europa Point and Rosia Bay where flights are only permitted over the sea, the requirement to have attended a recognised piloting course is removed; however all the other requirements mentioned above remain the same.
The Director of Civil Aviation commented "That while buying such equipment is easy, it must be remembered that a small unmanned aircraft being flown at several hundred feet above the ground is a potential killer if it is poorly operated and falls to earth! Equally given the proximity of aircraft operating from the Airfield, any activity by Small Unmanned Vehicles must be carefully coordinated to avoid conflict with or delays to aircraft operating from the Airport. Therefore it is extremely important that anyone considering buying such equipment for use in Gibraltar contacts the Civil Aviation Office at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive advice on the limitations to its use in Gibraltar.
All Gibraltar drone operators need to be registered and drones will be issued with a registration mark. The following documents detail the processes to be followed to register as a drone operatoor and the charges this will incur:
Flying Drones - Registration Requirements
Drone operators visiting Gibraltar, who wish to fly their drone, must obtain a permit from the Director of Civil Aviation. They will be required to provide the Director of Civil Aviation with proof of identity, proof of insurance and if wishing to fly anywhere other than the four coastal flight zones, they will need to prove thay have an EU specific category licence, or equivalent.
A Frequently Asked Questions Document on the subject can be downloaded here
Drones Frequently Asked Questions
The UK CAA have set out a very useful short video on You-Tube, which while not catering for all the circumstances of Gibraltar, does highlight the important do's and don'ts of drone flying.
The video can be found at - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDE8AGkj4dM
A poster showing the main requirements of Drone Flying can be found at the following pdf link: