In the first seven months of 2019, the CAA issued 92 unmanned aerial vehicle operation licenses. The number is 59% higher than last year, when 58 permits were issued. At the same time, there have been 8 more tests in which the authorization was refused. During the tests, the unmanned aerial vehicles were meant to be flown around an aerodrome. The reasons for the refusal were either a late submission of the application for the permit or the individual’s failure to operate the unmanned aerial vehicle in a reasonably safe manner. In 2018, five permits were denied for the same reasons.
The fact that pilots are increasingly respecting the unmanned aerial vehicle operation rules is demonstrated not merely by the growing number of applications for the permits, but also the decline in the number of violations registered by the CAA this year.
Throughout the seven months of 2019, the CAA had dealt with 16 administrative violation cases, while in 2018, 32 administrative violation cases were tried. There were also incidents where the flouting of the rules had led to drones coming dangerously close to other aircraft.
In 2018, the CAA received three reports of drones approaching an airborne vehicle from pilots of other aircraft. This year the CAA has received only one report, and the incident occurred outside of the Republic of Latvia.
The CAA notes that, this month, the government intends to review the Cabinet of Ministers’ draft regulations on “Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Other Aircraft”, which will replace completely the existing Cabinet regulations. Once the draft regulations come into force, one of the requirements for obtaining a CAA operating license will be the drone pilot examination.
Considering that it will take time to familiarise oneself with the new regulations and take the exam, the CAA advises individuals who intend to fly their drones in August or September to apply in time for the flight permit. The granted permits will continue to be valid after the new draft regulations enter into force.