Role of GCAA
The purpose of General Civil Aviation Authority is to regulate civil aviation affairs and provide necessary services while ensuring safety and security regulations. This is aimed at enhancing the aviation industry in the UAE and its airspace. Since its establishment, GCA modernised air traffic control programmes and radar equipment, and set up new facilities to serve the growth of the civil aviation sector in the UAE.
Unmanned aerial system (UAS)/drones
To ensure a safe, secure and environmentally friendly development, and to respect the citizens’ legitimate concerns for privacy and data protection, GCAA has developed a regulatory framework for unmanned aerial system (UAS)/drone operations in the UAE.
Federal Decree-Law No. 26 of 2022 Concerning the Regulation of the Civil Use of Unmanned Aircraft and Related Activities aims to:
- ensure the safe use of unmanned aircraft and maintain the safety and security of the airspace of the UAE
- regulate and control air navigation services of unmanned aircraft
- manage and regulate the operation of unmanned aircraft and related activities safely and effectively, and standardise related systems and procedures
- minimise the risks arising from the operation of unmanned aircraft and determine the competencies of the relevant entities in this respect.
Types of users of unmanned aerial vehicles/drones
- Individual/private (recreational user) - This category of users, fly unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones for leisure or as a hobby
- Organisation/operator (commercial and non-commercial user) - This category of users, fly unmanned aerial vehicles or drones for commercial purposes.
Rules to be followed while flying unmanned aerial vehicles
- Rules for an individual/private user (recreational user)
Individuals or private or recreational users must abide by the rules mentioned below while flying unmanned aerial vehicles/drones. A UAV/drone flyer shall:
- fly UAVs/drones weighing 5 kgs or less and that too in the approved flying zone indicated in the ‘My drone hub’ application (i. e. the green zone)
- register the UAV with GCAA before flying
- fly the UAV/drone only during day time and in good weather conditions
- use the UAV/drone for recreation and not for commercial purposes
- be responsible to use UAV/drone in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and inspect it before commencing its flight
- not fly the UAV/drone near public and/or private property
- not fly the UAV/drone within 5 km of the UAE airports’ outer fence, heliports, helicopter landing sites, airfields and in controlled zones
- maintain direct radio control link with the UAV/drone
- maintain frequency band restrictions (29.7-47.0 MHz max power 10 mW, or 2400-2500 MHz max power 100 mW)
- take into consideration, the effects of the frequency used on radio communication
- avoid collisions of the UAVs/drones with people, objects, other manned and unmanned aircraft
- not harass or endanger people or threaten to damage property
- be responsible to inform GCAA when he/she intends to resell the UAV/drones
- not equip UAVs/drones with drop or release devices
- fly the UAV/drone within line-of-sight and not more than 400 feet above ground level
- use camera only in the flying zones and comply with relevant laws on privacy.
Additional points to be noted:
- The minimum age to fly UAVs/drones weighing more than 25 kgs is 21 years.
- All UAVs/drones weighing more than 5 kgs and/or equipped with gas engine shall operate only within the boundaries of GCAA approved flying clubs.
In case of an accident involving a UAV/drone, or in case of loss of control of a UAV/drone, the user shall immediately report the incident/accident to GCAA on the hotline number +971506414667 and E-mail: email@example.com.
- Steps to follow before flying an unmanned aerial vehicle by an organisation/operator (for professional use)
Step 1: Obtain the Unmanned Aircraft Operator Authorisation (UOA)
To obtain the UAO, all organisations/operators must submit the following documents:
Step 2: Apply for permission to operate the UAV
After obtaining the UOA, the operator must apply for permission to operate the UAV before each flight activity in restricted zone (red zone).
Regardless of the flying zone (red or green), the organisation/operator must apply for Security Clearance Approval if their drone-flying activity involves the use of any capturing /recording devices, such as but not limited to camera, video streaming, etc.
Examples of special operations allowed for this category:
- areal work
- air Show
- fire fighting
- protecting Wildlife
- weather forecasting.
Flying zones for UAVs/drones
To learn more about the authorised flying zones in the UAE, download the app ‘My Drone Hub’ (available on the App Store and Android) or download the GCAA map.
For queries on UAVs/drones, please contact GCAA via
- email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by
- phone at 8004466 (from Monday to Thursday, between 7:30 am and 3:30 pm, and on Fridays between 7:30 am and 12 pm.