Only companies can get drone permits

MUSCAT, Feb 17 – Only companies will be allowed to operate unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as drones, in the Sultanate. According to an announcement made by Public Authority for Civil Aviation (PACA) on Sunday, companies can approach the regulator for acquiring a permit. “Those companies should get a no objection certificate from competent authorities prior to submitting an application before PACA,” said the announcement. While clarifying on the operation of drones in Oman, it said, “A permit is required for all drone flights in Oman, and it will be granted only to companies for commercial purposes.” The other authorities involved in granting of permission include the Royal Oman Police (ROP), Royal Oman Airforce (RAFO) and National Survey Authority (NSA).

“After getting a certificate from these authorities, a company can approach PACA with the required application form and fees for the permit,” it said.
According to Article 144 of Oman’s new Penal Code, it is not allowed to fly drones in the country without the necessary approvals and authorisation of the competent authorities. “Taking photographs, drawings or mapping with the help of drones or any other aerial vehicle is not allowed without permission,” says the new penal code. Violators can be imprisoned for a period not less than six months and not more than three years, states the law. Considered one of the most resourceful and multipurpose innovations of the century, drones have managed to perforate numerous segments of the global economic sphere.

Drones are experimented to be extremely beneficial in places where man cannot reach or is unable to perform in a timely and efficient manner. “Regulations in the use of drones should be made in such a way that the community can reap benefit from them,” said Prof Hadj Bourdoucen, Dean of College of Engineering, Sultan Qaboos University. In many parts of the world, drones are used in agriculture and even disaster management, through aerial surveys. Prof Hadj, who chaired the committee for the recent conference on unmanned aerial vehicle system at the university, said drones are a new technology. “The Sultanate should take maximum advantage from their commercial use,” he said.