Well, no drone in Malaysia is likely to be as lucky as the drone in the video above, but you'll get my drift when I say that, yes, drones should be regulated. Or, rather, the guys operating the drone should be regulated. Or maybe both.
And that's exactly what our Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) is planning on doing, I hear.
Drones (or UAVs, which stands for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) are growing in popularity worldwide, not just in Malaysia. Drones can carry out naughty or even evil missions (when used by military madmen, especially), and drones can be used for good things, even save lives.
During last year's great floods in the East Coast, for example, drones replaced helicopters for monitoring and surveillance, reducing the risks faced by operators and rescue workers and helping them save time and lives. Not many Malaysians knew it then but at any one time during the disaster, easily six or seven drones were deployed by our authorities instead of helicopters.
I'm not sure how many drones there are out (or up) there now but the number is surely increasing.
Regulating the UAVs will help:
1. Ensure the application is in the hands of the persons who are qualified and proper to own and operate one;
2. Prevent the abuse of drones in high-security or/and sensitive areas, such as police stations, military installations, and prisons etc); and
3. Avoid mid-air accidents by ensuring that drones (especially the more advanced UAVs) are not operated in commercial as well as non-commercial airspace routes and patterns.
Currently, any UAV weighing more than 20kg maximum take off weight (MTOW) requires to be under airworthiness certification process issued by DCA. Only persons with private pilot license A (which is MTOW not more than 2.400kg) is allowed to operate the UAV. This is in line with the Civil Aviation Act and the Chicago Convention, under ICAO.
The advancement of technology means that the UAV is getting smaller and able to carry payloads, such as camera, surveillance apparatus and mobile sensitive scientific measurement equipment.
What I hear is DCA plans to regulate all UAVs, even lesser than 20kg MTOW ones. It is the function of the UAV, rather than the physical measurement, which defines the mobile aerial transport unit. The base stations may also be regulated.
Drones are popular with entertainment, sports and event management, broadcasting, film and production companies, security and traffic management, environment and natural resources management and property and construction.
Various government agencies and authorities are also using drones as a tool of productivity and efficiency. The application would also cover large plantations and agriculture industry,
A good example is local authority. The enforcement to monitor traffic, parking, cleanliness, waste and water reticulation management, petty traders, pasar malams and pasar tanis and park and public spaces management would be improved and become more efficient.
Imagine a port authority would efficiently manage the berthing and cargo management of merchant shipping, fishing and recreational vessels and special purpose structures such as the one used for oil and gas industry.
Of course there will always be the adventurers among us who will use drones for more creative purposes, other than trying to catch the neighbour sunbathing in her balcony!