With the increase in popularity of drones for both commercial and private use around the world, ThaiTech looks at the laws with regards to flying a drone in Thailand.
What are fast becoming the latest must have gadget, it has been reported that drones are increasingly on many people’s wish list in the run up to Christmas.
Here in Thailand, there has also been an increase in people using drones and if you follow prominent blogger Richard Barrow, you’ll have no doubt have seen some of the spectacular photos that can be taken using such a device.
This video, taken in Bangkok, is also another example of the type of footage which can be captured using a drone, or Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) to give them their official name:
In fact, Bangkok was arguably one of the first locations in the world whereby drones were used to report news, when The Nation, Bangkok Post and others, embraced ‘drone journalism’ when covering the political protests in Bangkok earlier in 2014.
Such is the popularity of drones that if you type “where to buy a…” into Google, you’ll see that the search engine features the word ‘drone’ pretty high up the list.
So with potentially thousands of drones taking to the skies above Thailand in the not too distant future what’s stopping one of them flying into plane, crashing into an apartment block or injuring some innocent bystander?
A near miss in London
The threat from a drone be it accidental or intentional is very real. Over the weekend, the BBC reported of a near miss between a passenger plane and drone close to Heathrow airport in London. The person flying the drone has not yet been identified.
Aside from the potential safety hazards, flying a drone with a camera attached also raises questions of privacy, especially in residential areas or near schools or children’s play areas.
A regulatory nightmare
With so many problems which could potentially arise from using such a device, the team at ThaiTech have been busy trying to find out exactly what are the rules for flying a drone in Thailand.
Search online and there’s very little information on laws related to drones. This isn’t just a problem in Thailand but around the world, in what is proving to be a regulatory nightmare for authorities.
Laws on drones in Thailand remain unclear
The current situation is in some ways reminiscent to that of the early days of the motor car, with people driving at all kinds of speeds not really knowing what was legal and/or safe at that time.
However, whilst the laws regarding drones remains somewhat of a grey area, you would be wrong to think that you aren’t governed by some kind of laws or legislation when flying a drone in Thailand.
Last week, ThaiTech spoke to a property agent in Hua Hin who had been using a DJI Phantom Vision 2 to take aerial photos of property and plots of land for sale in the province of Prachuap Khiri Khan. The agent, who asked us to respect his anonymity, said that he had been requested by the local police not to fly such a device in the area.
He said the police also told him that any radio controlled air bourne device, such as a drone, airplane or radio controlled helicopter, requires the person flying the device in Thailand to have license.
ThaiTech has so far been unable to confirm if the requirements for needing a license to fly a drone in Thailand is true. It seems from the authorities we contacted, everyone is unsure on what exactly the rules are with regards to regulation of drones.
As part of our research, we were advised to read this document from the Department of Civil Aviation which clearly details a number of restricted areas where drones or any other aircraft would not be permitted to fly in Thailand.
However, the laws for flying drones in Thailand still remain unclear, so if you own a drone how can you make sure you’re not breaking the law?
Using a drone responsibly
Even if you think you are not breaking the law, it’s not unreasonable to say that by flying a drone you would still be in breach of a person’s privacy.
Therefore, if you do fly a drone with a camera, you need to make sure you are at least flying it responsibly.
But how do you do that?
Well, in the UK, the Information Commissioners Office offers some pretty good advice, which could be applied to any country with regards to drones.
The recommendations are as follows:
- Let people nearby know before you start flying and recording
- Find out how capable the camera is before recording
- Consider your surroundings
- Plan your flight
- Keep your drone visible and in view
- Think carefully before sharing any images online
- Keep any images from your drone safe and secure
Earlier this year, Balpa, a group representing pilots in the UK, called for better protection for the general public from drones and even went as far to say it wants drones to meet the same safety and piloting requirements as other aircraft.
What are your thoughts on the use of drones?
Do you think they pose a real security risk?
Do you own a drone and fly one in Thailand?
If you do, let us know in the comments section below.