Latvia sets to work on drone regulations

Drones are becoming more and more popular, and Latvia has set to work on drone usage regulations, which will be presented to the government soon, reported Latvian Television Sunday.

The regulations are being worked out by the Civil Aviation Agency. The air traffic watchdog and aircraft organizations hope that this new variety of air traffic will grow and won't get tied up in bureaucracy.

As the number of drones and radio-controlled aircraft grows, the number of accidents goes up as well. Most often such accidents happen above crowds due to technical failures or human error - hence the need for regulations.

"The new regulations tell what you can do in general terms, leaving specific cases at the authority of the Civil Aviation Agency," said the agency director Māris Gorodcovs.

The new rules stipulate free use of drones not weighing more than 1.5 kilograms. The main demand is that drones will have to be registered so that their owners can be held accountable.

Prior to flying people will have to take into account possible local restrictions. Flying is forbidden by important state objects and a few territories above Rīga, and in some places drones are forbidden to fly higher than 50 meters.

Outside cities, with some exceptions, the limit will be 120 meters. These limits will also affect devices that weigh more than 1.5 but less than 25 kilograms; however, the urban flights of such aircraft will have to be registered with the aviation authorities.

Drones filming mass events will have to have emergency parachutes and a permit from the organizer.

"At the same time it's stipulated that if a drone pilot sees [another] airship the pilot has to immediately give way to it," said Gorodcovs.

Ilmārs Ozols, a representative of the Latvian Remote-Controlled Aircraft Association, said that the association wants commercial and non-commercial use of drones to be strictly differentiated as pilots should be certified if drones are used for business.

EU drone regulations are expected to be unveiled within two years, and until then it's expected that the national sky authorities won't be going out of their way to work out creative regulations for the drones.

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