PETALING JAYA: Irresponsible drone users who do not operate Unmanned Aircraft Systems or drones according to regulations would disrupt the good practices of the rest of the drone community, says a drone racing group.
Drone Racing Association Malaysia (DRAM) vice-president Dr. Jaysuman Pusppanathan said these “black sheep” would cause further damage and pose threats to the safety of the public.
“We are shocked by the recent news about three men who were arrested for allegedly attempting to smuggle prohibited items into a rehabilitation centre in Machang using drones.
“This incident is an indicator that public awareness of safety concerns about drones in Malaysia should be addressed,” he told The Star.
He was commenting on the recent incident where three men in Machang, Kelantan, were nabbed after trying to smuggle prohibited items into a rehabilitation centre using a drone.
Kelantan police chief Zaki Harun said the arrests were made after police received a report about a drone being flown above the centre at 1.05am on Dec 12.
The centre, which was installed with a tracking device technology, had detected the drone operator in an area nearby, he said.
Jaysuman, who is also Universiti Teknologi Malaysia’s academic research fellow, said it was important for operators to be familiar with the rules and regulations set by the authorities.
He added that local drone associations could engage the public and users on the ground through activities in order to increase awareness about drone usage in Malaysia.
“The rules and guidelines are clearly outlined by the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM).
“Without special permission, drone operators should not fly above a height of 120m, fly at no-fly-zones, carry heavy payloads or fly above crowds or private premises,” he said, adding that collaborative efforts between the drone community and authorities could help increase awareness of the matter.
Malaysia Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) Developments Association president Datuk Lester Tay concurred, saying his association had worked with authorities to educate the public on the rules and regulations of flying drones in Malaysia.
“Aside from public awareness, the relevant authorities should study the use of counter-UAV measures to help curb unauthorised operations at no-fly zones,” he added.
According to CAAM, under the 2021 Civil Aviation Directive, drone operators must be certified under any Remote Piloted Training Organisation to be granted licence to operate, Tay said.
“The qualified or passer will be granted the licence to operate the drones for their categories.
“However, the management can be improved digitally and more effortlessly by using Unmanned Aircraft Systems Traffic Management (UTM) like what German air navigation service providers (ANSP), Canadian ANSP and European countries are using to better manage the lower airspace navigation of Malaysia instead of manually managing,” Tay said.
Last year, CAAM said it would introduce an online drone flight permit application system for UTM by October this year.
The system would help shorten the waiting period for issuing drone flight permits from 14 days to a day, and would be a platform for drone ownership registration and drone flight permit applications as well as to facilitate the monitoring and investigation process in the event of an unwanted incident during flight.
Since 2020, applications for drone flight permits have been done manually by filling out forms.