Latest Drone Laws in Ethiopia

The latest drone laws in Ethiopia have made drone flights legal. Ethiopia allows legal importation, production, and operation of unmanned aerial systems within its borders. 

The Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority (ECAA) is the country’s drone regulator. Which are these drone flight governing regulations?

The laws regulating drone flying in Ethiopia control drone pilots’ and operators’ qualifications by ensuring drone fliers acquire the necessary training for their specific duties. The rules aim to maintain safety for your drone, you, and others during the flights.

This article explores the most recent drone laws governing drone operations in Ethiopia. It’ll help you have easy and enjoyable drone flying moments without colliding with the authority in charge. 

Read on.

Which Are the Latest Drone Laws in Ethiopia?

Unlike Luxembourg which has three major categorizations for drone laws, Ethiopia has two. 

They are:

  • Drone Pilot Laws
  • Drone Operator Laws

Although the drone laws in Albania are not exactly established yet, you can follow the basic rules listed below to be on the safer side: 

  • You can only fly your UAV during daylight hours, and not at night. 

  • Fly your drone within your Line of Sight (LoS) at all times.

  • Go through your aircraft’s user manual before taking it out for the aerial adventure.

  • Conduct a pre- and post-flight inspection of your drone.

  • Don’t fly over 140 metres (or 400 feet) from the ground. 

  • Avoid flying within 50 metres (or 55 yards) of or over people, property, or vehicles.

  • Stay away from flying your drone near airports, military and government facilities, and densely populated areas.

  • A valid remote pilot license/permit is mandatory for deploying your drone for commercial purposes.

Drone Pilot Laws

A compliant pilot for a drone/small RPAS (remotely piloted aircraft system) restricted to VLOS (visual line-of-sight) must fulfill the following conditions:

Age

  • A minimum of 18 years.

Medical Health

  • Be eligible for a Category 4 Medical Certificate/Declaration or have a current permit or license-linked medical report.

Knowledge
  • A complete course of pilot ground school instruction: Relevant air law and procedure, flight instruments, flight operations, navigation, human factor, meteorology, and flight theory. 

  • A passing grade on a written exam from an authorized training institution.
Experience
  • Acquire practical training. 
  • Attain a satisfactory experience standard to prove proficiency.
Skill
  • Ability to perform appropriate emergency and routine drone/small RPAS maneuvers. 
  • Appropriate proper VLOS-restricted operations of the drone with a competency degree.
Credits

Previous experience credit following the guidance below:

  • Ethiopian Civil License: A Private Pilot Licence holder or higher has met the ‘knowledge requirement.’

  • Foreign pilots: Foreign credit-holding drone pilots evaluation case-by-case.

  • Ethiopian Force Pilots: Retired and active Ethiopian Forces staff with pilot airplane wings standard qualifications or Basic Flying Training course of about 120 hours have met the ‘knowledge requirement.’
  • Retired and active Ethiopian Forces pilots with the recent Ethiopian Forces small RPAS (or equivalent) qualifications have met the ‘skill,’ ‘experience,’ and ‘knowledge’ requirements.

Drone Operator Laws

A compliant drone operator restricted to VLOS must have the following conditions:

General Requirements

A certificate applicant must be able to:

  • Adhere to the drone maintenance requirements.
  • Keep a satisfactory organizational structure.
  • Meet the small RPAS operation standards.
  • Suit the training program requirements.
  • Maintain operation control.
  • Conduct safe operations.

Also, the certificate applicant must have the following to demonstrate the above capabilities:

  • Management personnel perform operational control, maintenance, and pilot training and supervision.

  • Specified operating performance capabilities, including the drone’s maximum performance level.

  • Properly equipped drones and qualified crew members for the operational type and area.

  • Ground handling services and safe flight handling equipment.

  • Operational control management organization.

  • Satisfactory training program.

  • A drone maintenance plan.

  • An operational manual.

Flight Operations

Laws in this section are classified as follows:

Operating instructions:

  • The operator must ensure proper instruction of the operations personnel on their duties and the specific duties relationship to the overall drone operation.

  • The operations personnel must follow the operations manual’s specified procedures in duty execution.

Operational control:

  • An operator must always operate the device under its operations manager’s control.

Operational flight plan:

  • The operator shouldn’t allow flight commencement if the operational flight plan fails to follow the operations manual procedures.

  • An operational flight plan must meet the minimum content requirement: Operator’s name, pilot-in-command (PIC) name (s), date, drone registration (if applicable), drone model (s), flight profile description, and other safety-related information.

  • Your flight plan must allow the crew to record fuel or other energy states and flight progress relative to the plan.

  • The operations manual must specify the recording procedure of the operational flight plan’s formal acceptance.

Aircraft maintenance:

  • The operator shouldn’t permit a drone to take off without proper maintenance that aligns with their approved maintenance manual.

Site survey and build-up area:

  • A drone operator won’t conduct any mission over built-up areas at distances and altitudes less than the ECARAS part 22-specified ones, or

  • Perform a launch, approach, or recovery/landing within a town or city’s built-up area without a proper site survey.

Personnel Requirements

Below are the laws that govern the personnel eligibility:

Pilot-in-command designation

The operator should ensure the PIC designation throughout the flight.

Pilot Qualifications

No one should act as a drone pilot or an operator allow one unless they:

  • Comply with the Small RPAS pilot compliance criteria. 

  • Fulfill the drone operator’s ground and flight training program requirements.
Crew Member Qualifications

A person shouldn’t act as a crew member or be allied to act as one until they meet the drone operator’s training program provisions.

Training
  • Training program: An operator must establish and maintain a flight and ground training plan that ensures the trainee’s competency.

  • The training should be conducted as per the necessary standards and must include the following:
  • Piloting controls passing procedures from one pilot or station to another.

  • Training for persons assigned the performance of flight-associated duties.

  • Initial and recurrent training, including drone-type training.

  • Ground handling and aircraft servicing training.

  • Company indoctrination training.

  • Emergency operations training.

  • Specific work training.

  • Upgrading training.

  • Other safe operation-related training.
  • An operator must do the following:
  • Include an exhaustive syllabus of the drone’s ground and flight training program

  • Provide adequate facilities and competent personnel for the program.
Training standards
  • Company Indoctrination Training: It’s a requirement for operations-assigned persons and includes the following:
  • Flight planning and operating procedures, including operational procedures and restrictions

  • Company’s reporting relationship and communication procedures

  • Essential surface contamination and safety awareness plan

  • Ethiopian Aviation Regulations and Applicable Measures

  • Drone ROC (rate of climb) and specified conditions

  • Navigation procedures for the operational area

  • Operational area meteorological training

  • Operational control system

  • Weight and balance system

  • External load carriage

  • Fueling systems
  • Upgrading training: The training to the PIC on the drone type must include:
  • Relevant qualification training completion in line with the assigned duties.

  • Drone-type training and a PIC competency check.
  • Initial and recurrent ground technical type training: It aims to ensure all crew members are conversant with drone systems and applicable emergency, normal, and malfunction procedures.


    The training includes the following:

  • Navigation and ancillary equipment use and operation

  • Drone servicing and ground handling procedure

  • Drone system operation and limitations

  • Same type RPAS equipment differences

  • Drone performance and limitations

  • Balance and weight procedures
  • Drone servicing and ground handling training: It must apply to each crew member’s duties and the specific drone type. The training includes:
  • Cold weather operation procedures: Movement of a drone or its components from a warm facility in cold seasons, engine pre-heat procedures, and battery degradation management.

  • Charging and fueling procedures: Fluids, oil, and fuel types, their correct fueling and fuel checking methods, and battery charging procedures.

  • Protective covers installation and use.
  • Initial and recurrent drone flight training program: The program ensures the crew members’ competency in specific duty performance.

  • It includes the following:
  • Standard operating procedures for drones and components in emergency, normal, and abnormal situations

  • Standard take-offs, landing/recovery, approaches, and circuits.

  • Navigation and communication equipment simulated failure.

  • Control station fire protection and smoke control procedures

  • Rejected landing/recovery and take-off/launch procedures

  • Performance information and calculation use procedures

  • Anti-torque and autorotations system malfunctions

  • Visual observers-involving operational methods

  • Stall prevention and recovery/landing procedure

  • Turbulence and wind shear recovery briefings

  • System malfunctions and simulated engine

  • Flight maneuvers for specific operations

  • Use of pre-flight checks and checklists

  • Steep flight and turn characteristics

  • Simulated emergency descent

  • Collision avoidance strategies
  • Qualifications and training records


    The operator must establish and maintain each crew member’s record of the following:

  • Name and license/permit (where applicable).

  • Medical category and its expiry date, if applicable.

  • Each member’s training completion and competency check dates while under the operator’s employ. 

  • Failure-related information for each member while in the operator’s employ.

Note: The drone operator must retain the crew members’ records for at least 3 years.

Wrap-Up

The latest drone laws in Ethiopia focus on drone pilots’ and operators’ eligibility. The Aviation Authority body in the county, ECAA, provides the laws you must follow to ensure competency that enhances safe drone flight.

A drone pilot must meet age, medical health, skill, knowledge, and experience requirements and demonstrate satisfactory experience in the field.

Drone operators must comply with the provided flight operations, personnel, and general requirements. The laws ensure they’re able to control their crew members to conduct safe operations.

Feel free to fly your drone (as a pilot or operator) in Ethiopia if you operate under the laws clearly outlined.

Author
Peter Karanja

Peter is a licensed drone pilot and drone fanatic. He owns a DJI Air 2S that he uses to shoot videos for fun, enjoyment and for clients.

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