Commercial Drone Laws and Regulations in UAE

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Commercial Drone Laws and Regulations in UAE

Drones are the future, an essential tool at our disposal that enables us with visibility without the hazard to human life. 2020 has been a truly transformative year that has highlighted the importance of technology bridging the gap between socially distant humans. This, along with the UAE’s proactive adoption of new technologies, has fast-tracked drone technology’s widespread acceptance into many industries.
As one of the biggest drone service providers in the world, we’d love nothing more than to see drones be applied to their fullest potential. We believe a big part to ushering in this new era is educating the community and cultivating an environment of shared developments and understanding. With their progressive approach to regulating new technologies, UAE has been the perfect place for drones to take off.

Suppose you’re an organization looking to catch the wind and take off. In that case, it is essential to have a deep understanding of the current rules and regulations in place for commercial drone activity. In this article, we’ll attempt to break down the laws and regulations that are in place to ensure the safety and security of you, your drone and the general public. 

Drone Rules and Regulations in the UAE are among the most progressive and advanced in the world- there are more exciting opportunities and drone applications to be explored and UAE is leading the charge. Technology is one of the key factors that leads a nation and the UAE has always been at the forefront of innovation and adoption of new technologies

If you’d like to know about the permit acquisition process, please visit this article, where we explore that process. This article is not meant to be an exhaustive resource on the changing rules and regulations but instead, a basic guide to the structure. Please refer to the official GCAA portal for the latest information.

Organizational Responsibilities

The organization must ensure that the following criteria and rules are met to remain compliant with the authorities:

  • Drones are to be insured appropriately
  • Necessary permits must be obtained before commercial flight
  • Commercial Drones are not to be used for recreational purposes
  • Ensure drones are in fit condition for flight
  • Assess and maintain that drone pilots are:
    • Fit to operate the drone safely
    • Qualified for the intended operation
    • Can follow all the rules and regulations competently
    • Are of the minimum age (21 years)
  • All personnel involved in operations are not affected by any conditions that impair their capacity to perform their duties
  • Report any changes regarding:
    • Accountable person
    • Operator name
    • Change in address or contact information
    • Change in type of drone or fleet size
  • Remain updated on the latest rules, regulations, and authorized airspaces
    • Convey any updates to all concerned parties
  • Ensure UAS .035 & UAS .040 are in compliance
  • Include contingencies in case of any failure
  • Ensure public safety is always upheld
  • All procedures must not violate any of the requirements stipulated in the CAR (Civil Aviation Regulations). 
  • Procedures must define clear roles and responsibilities of the organization & Drone Pilots
  • Drones are not authorized to carry any person(s)
  • Ensure compliance with any security requirements mandated by the GCAA or any other agency
  • Transportation of any dangerous goods is prohibited unless permitted by the GCAA
  • Obtain authorization from GCAA’s Security Sector before using drone’s photographic apparatus
  • No Drones shall be equipped with drop release devices
  • Ensure that both the pilot and the drone is registered with the GCAA 


Organizations have a responsibility to maintain records for at least 24 months of the following:

  • Material demonstrating compliance with CAR & laws
  • Details that would aid an investigation
  • Documents that establish responsibilities and liabilities between Organizations, Drone Pilots and other parties

Records must include but are not limited to:

  • Flight Mission Logs
    • Date of flight
    • Route information and GPS Coordinates
    • Flight start and end time
    • Name of Drone Pilot(s)
    • Any observations/ incidents/ equipment failure
    • If applicable, GCAA operation approval
    • All experimental pilot authorization issues
    • Drone details:
      • Drone details and responsibilities
      • Model
      • Serial number
      • Weight
      • Main colour
  • Documentation of drone pilot authorization and assessment
  • In the case of events, records must contain the following event information:
    • Event type
    • Date & location
    • List of participating drones & pilots

The organization’s responsibility is to store all records safely; the documents must be protected from damage, alteration and theft.

Reporting Accidents/Incidents

The organization must report any accidents, incidents or occurrences to the GCAA and any other organization mandated by the GCAA. 

The incident should also be reported to the designer/manufacturer of the drone if:

  • Incident is related to mechanical malfunction, technical defect and if the technical limitations are exceeded
  • Occurrences that highlight inaccurate, incomplete or ambiguous information contained in the manufacturer’s data
  • Irregular circumstances that may or may not have endangered the aircraft’s safe operation and have not resulted in any serious accident

Reports should be drafted in a manner established by the GCAA and must contain all the relevant information known to the operator. The latest a report may be submitted is 72 hours after identifying the root cause. It is advisable to submit the report as soon as possible. When relevant; the organization must produce follow-up reports that detail the steps taken to prevent similar occurrences from taking place in the future.

The following is an inexhaustive list of incidents/accidents that are to be reported:

  • A crash resulting in the injury or fatality to person
  • Collision with buildings or structures
  • Near miss with manned aircraft or other drones
  • A drone being operated without the appropriate GCAA approval
  • Drone trespasses in controlled airspace without ATC clearance
  • Causes a public nuisance
  • Flies in a ‘No Flying Zone’ without prior GCAA approval
  • For a more exhaustive but less pertinent list, please refer to the GCAA document CAAP 22.

Drone Operator Rules & Regulations

During the mission, the Drone Operator or Pilot has a list of rules and regulations he or she must follow. The rules are kept in place to protect the safety of the organization, the pilot, the drone and the general public.

The Drone Pilot must adhere to the following:

  • Fly in a safer manner that does not cause risk or other people or property
  • Give way to every other aircraft at all times. Additionally, land the drone whenever hearing or seeing another aircraft within the vicinity of the operation
  • Ensure that other’s privacy is not infringed upon intentionally or unintentionally
  • Observe a minimum safety distance of 50m from other parties unless prior authorization is obtained
  • The pilot must be wary as not to violate the relevant UAE laws while using a camera
  • Ensure the drone is used following the manufacturer’s instructions 
  • Drones must be inspected and assessed before the commencement of flight
  • Direct radio control link should be maintained between the pilot and the drone
  • Avoid collisions with people, objects and other aircrafts and drones
  • To not harass or endanger people or threaten property damage
  • In the event of an accident or incident, the user must report it to the GCAA hotline or by email immediately

Operational Parameters

Some operational limitations are put in place to ensure safety further and minimize cause to worry. The parameters are as follows:

  • Operations shall be limited to daytime and in good weather conditions
  • Operations can only be conducted maintaining VLOS (Visual Line of Sight)
  • The maximum altitude that the drone can fly at is 400 feet from ground level
  • A drone’s maximum take-off mass cannot exceed 25kg
  • Operations shall be performed within the design capability of the drone
  • Operations are not to be conducted in:
    • Prohibited, restricted or congested areas
    • Around or above crowds
    • Within controlled airspace
    • In “No Fly Zones”
    • Within 8km of the airport fence, or heliport, helicopter landing site or airfields
    • To learn more regarding the permitted flying areas, please install the “My Drone Hub” app.

This article was written in December 2020; the UAE's regulations are continually changing for the better, to better incorporate new technologies efficiently and safely. We hope this article was helpful to you. Still, it is always advisable to refer to the official sources in rules and laws.

If you are interested in using drones in your operations, please do not hesitate to contact us. We can set up a cost-free customized consultation to find the right solution for you.


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