Drone operators and hobbyists have voiced concerns over the draft regulations on the use of drones put forward by the authorities.

During a packed public consultation meeting this morning, director general for Civil Aviation George Borg Marks said a number of recent incidents involving RPAs (Remotely-Piloted Aircraft) had highlighted the need for regulation.

On one occasion, a drone was reported flying at 3000 feet directly in the approach path of one of the runways, while another drone had been flown into the airfield boundary.

One hobbyist expressed his fear that the proposed system of “designated areas” would impose an unreasonable amount of bureaucracy on individuals.

Under the proposed legal notice, which is open for public consultation until March 31, drone use is limited to designated areas and particular flight levels, considering “the proximity of any aerodrome, flight paths of aircraft and any other possible dangers to aviation, persons or property.

Another hobbyist argued that the cut-off weight of a kilogram – below which the regulations do not apply – was overly-restrictive, particularly as the most popular commercial models were between one and two kilos in weight. In the US and UK, he said, the comparative weights were 25kg and 20kg respectively.

A commercial operator, who has worked with drones for search and rescue purposes for a number of years, claimed that obtaining insurance, another proposed requirement, was currently “an impossible task”.

He said that although no drone-related injuries have ever been recorded in Malta, insurance companies were reluctant to provide coverage, and called on the authorities to act as a go-between in order to safeguard operators’ reputations.

Stefan Sant, Transport Malta legal advisor, said the goal of the regulations was to enable drones to operate with safety and visibility.

He said the authorities were approaching the consultation exercise with an open mind, and had already granted significant discretion to the director general to exclude certain categories of drone from the requirements on the basis of performance characteristics and intended use.

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