Drones, laws and regulations: everything you need to know before you fly | Legislation

The drones have arrived, there is no denying that. This appears to be a path of no return. They have been used for photos and recording films, soap operas or their holidays for a long time, in addition to spraying crops, fighting coronavirus. Some aircraft are simple models, intended to be just a toy. You may not like it, but some of them are already in tests to deliver food, while others promise to take the place of taxis.

With so many options on the market, some competent and others not so, rules need to appear to avoid problems. From privacy when a camera sees you from above, to the problem that such an aircraft can cause in the vicinity of an airport, helipad or any aeronautical route.

Fixed-wing and rotary-wing drones

Before you start talking about the rules and regulations, you need to keep in mind what a drone really is. All of them are controlled remotely or fly autonomously, and most of the existing ones are divided into two categories: fixed wing and rotary wing.

DJI Mavic 2 Zoom and Pro (Image: André Fogaça / Tecnoblog)

Fixed wing is the equivalent of the plane, while rotary wing is closer to a helicopter. Fixed-wing drones generally fly faster, longer and travel larger areas, while rotary-wing drones gain maneuverability and can fly smoothly within confined environments – such as your room.

The drone you should be thinking about right now is a rotating wing, an aircraft with four propellers and hovering in the air. They are the most popular, cheap and simple to fly. They are the ones who want to take the gnocchi somewhere on the route to their home, or patrol their home for intruders.

Ring Always Home Cam, from Amazon (Image: disclosure / Ring)

Ring Always Home Cam, from Amazon (Image: disclosure / Ring)

Drone classification

Who controls the flight of drones in Brazil is Anac (National Civil Aviation Agency), together with Anatel (National Telecommunications Agency) and DECEA (Department of Airspace Control), with some very clear rules and regulations. For Anac, there are two objectives for aircraft: the first is the use for recreation and leisure, while the second focuses on commercial, experimental or institutional purposes. In numbers, Brazil already has 78,304 drones registered until September 2020, 61.1% of which are considered for recreational use.

Regardless of the purpose of the drone, there are three categories in Brazil:

  • Class 1: maximum takeoff weight greater than 150 kg;
  • Class 2: maximum takeoff weight between 25 and 150 kg;
  • Class 3: maximum takeoff weight of up to 25 kg.

Within this Class 3 there are two divisions, the first for drones with a maximum take-off weight of up to 250 grams and the second for those that go beyond that.

DJI Mavic Mini has 249 grams, but needs registration (Image: André Fogaça / Tecnoblog)

DJI Mavic Mini has 249 grams, but needs registration (Image: André Fogaça / Tecnoblog)

ANAC considers maximum take-off weight for the sum of the weight of the batteries (or fuel), memory card, camera, sensors, engines, propellers and even the weight of any cargo that may be there. This figure does not take into account the weight of the moment of takeoff and this is a controversial point with the DJI Mavic Mini, which has 249 grams, but officially can carry approximately 272 grams. The extra weight is in the protection for the propellers and goes into the “eventual load” part.

You better register your drone

The agency requires registration of all aircraft or drones for recreational use or not, which have a maximum take-off weight greater than 250 grams and which fly within the operator’s field of vision, below 120 meters of altitude. The registration needs the personal data of who will operate the drones, together with the aircraft data (name, model, manufacturer, serial number and photo).

Registration is like registering an aircraft on an airplane or helicopter. It is with it that some type of repair can happen without great difficulties. To Tecnoblog, Mario Saadi, Infrastructure partner at Tauil & Checker Advogados says that it is important to “approve these drones with the agency itself, so that it can have some kind of control over who is operating that unmanned aircraft beforehand, where it is located. being operated and which aircraft it is ”.

This record helps even when insurance needs to be triggered.

What are the general rules

Most drones for people who just want to film their vacation, see if the roof is whole or see the neighborhood from the sky, are Class 3 in the variant between 250 grams and 25 kilos (like the Mavic Mini, Mavic Pro, Phantom 3 , Phantom 4, Mavic Air, along with almost all other drones focused on recreational use by DJI and its competitors). The rules for flying are:

  • The registration of the aircraft with Anac and Sisant (Unmanned Aircraft System);
  • User over 18 years old, whether to pilot or assist the operation as an observer;
  • Insurance covering damage to third parties;
  • Operational risk assessment;
  • Fly only in areas at least 30 meters away from people (it is possible to fly closer when they are aware of the flight or when there is a mechanical barrier between them and the aircraft);
  • Operate only one drone at a time;
  • Have sufficient autonomy for the flight and landing at the planned location;
  • Fix the identification (number obtained in the registration process) of the equipment in a visible place on the drone and with non-flammable material.

It is possible to change the pilot during the operation, but it is necessary to keep the proof of insurance, risk assessment and flight manual in the same place. For Class 1 drones, it is necessary to add the license to operate the drone, aeronautical medical certificate, airworthiness certificate and have proof of annual maintenance inspection. For Class 2, simply remove the proof of annual maintenance inspection.

Maximum recommended height for drone flight (Image: disclosure / DECEA)

Maximum recommended height for drone flight (Image: disclosure / DECEA)

Decea also advises that flights up to 131 feet in height, or approximately 40 meters, cannot take place less than 5.4 kilometers from an aerodrome or airport. To fly with a drone between 40 and 120 meters high, the distance from aerodromes is nine kilometers.

For drones with a maximum takeoff weight of up to 250 grams, the only rule is for the pilot to be over 18 years old.

There are details that go beyond Anac, Decea and Anatel

In traffic there are rules that go beyond the Brazilian Traffic Code, and this also happens within the operation of drones in Brazil. Some possibilities for existing problems are in the privacy of people who are in the way of drones, such as when they fly over urban areas and public places.

“The penal code tries to deal with future conduct, such as killing someone and which carries a penalty of six to 30 years in prison. The same thing, to a large extent, applies to the activity or operation of drones in general ”, comments Mario Saadi.

“A drone goes very high and, hypothetically, they can be handled anywhere, including civilian aerodromes. The drone can interfere with the flight plan and cause some more serious activity. Operation within these areas can be sanctioned by Anac (…) when a flight is being performed. Accountability can be civil, administrative or criminal ”, says the lawyer.

In this scenario, if the aircraft is captured by Infraero itself or any other security agency, the irregular flight can result in pecuniary action with a fine, going up to the company’s interdiction when the drone’s operation was for commercial purposes – such as advertising footage .

Recently, a drone that flew over the vicinity of Congonhas Airport, in São Paulo, caused the interruption of the entire operation of the planes. In this case, the possibility of civil action is added as a result of the financial damage of the airlines and Infraero itself – since if the flight is canceled or diverted by the airport closing, the company has problems with the tickets.

The action is applicable to both the irregular conduct of a legal or physical person, since the damage is the same and this is true even for a toy drone.

Another important point is the privacy and security of people. Even if the overflying rule above 30 meters is respected, whoever controls the drone needs the consent of the people filmed or photographed. This detail is necessary both in captures for own use, and for recording images for later dissemination – commercial or not.

If a complaint occurs, the investigation of the responsible drone and operator takes place similarly to the airport case. Penalties also, adding the possible non-respected rules of Anac with a civil or criminal action.

Delivery drones need special authorization

In other countries there are already tests for parcel delivery with drones, while in Brazil the most recent is the case of iFood. The Brazilian company is scheduled for testing in November 2020; she is going to pick up a package with food from Shopping Iguatemi in Campinas (SP), to take it to a landing point like a helipad, where delivery continues with another means.

Speedbird drone takes deliveries of iFood (Image: publicity / iFood)

Speedbird drone takes deliveries of iFood (Image: publicity / iFood)

In this case the drone is bigger. The model chosen by the operating company, Speedbird, is the DLV-1 Albiventer, with 1.2 meters in diameter, weight of approximately 10 kg and load capacity of up to five kilos – but the iFood has limited it to two kilos. Fernando Martins, head of Logistics, Innovation and Engagement at iFood, tells the Tecnoblog that the model was chosen after studies of other similar deliveries that take place elsewhere.

In the case of Tupiniquim, the technology is very similar and the decision to take only food is precisely in the carrying capacity, since market purchases tend to have greater weight. Unlike recreational drones, the DLV-1 Albiventer is operated with previously drawn routes, authorized by Anac, which are covered almost autonomously.

“The flight is considered automated. He has enough technology to take off and land from point A to point B, but he has a professional pilot to intervene in the flight, if necessary ”, comments Fernando.

For this test, an Experimental Flight Authorization Certificate was issued by Anac, lasting up to one year. The entire approved route does not fly over other people and no high flow route, respecting the 30 meters high. “If everything goes well, as delivery predictability and how it (the drone) adds to the other modes (…), the tests may happen in the future in up to 200 other cities where iFood already operates”, explains the executive.

Fernando also believes that the certificate for this first test can facilitate the next regulations on commercial drones, in deliveries.

Brazilian rules for rugged drones

After deliveries, another application with positive results for all regulations is crop spraying. “The rules have been evolving and the market has been listened to. There are several channels open between users and regulators, understanding the demands and explaining the need for rules for the coexistence of unmanned aircraft with manned aircraft ”, says Eduardo Goerl, CEO and founder of the startup ARPAC.

These types of drones, larger and more robust, were chosen to help combat COVID-19 in Brazil. In the field they collect images of the plowing, apply inputs and even release predators such as Cotésia and Trichogramma, in order to increase the productivity of the plantation.

Eduardo also tells the Tecnoblog that Brazilian regulations are very similar to those that exist internationally, since “Brazil follows rules proposed by ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization). and may present more restrictive individual rules ”.

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