Published On: Wed, Mar 13th, 2019

Ministry restricts the use of drones

PHILIPSBURG — The Ministry  of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation and Telecommunications (TEATT) has placed restrictions on the use of drone aircraft in several areas such as the Princess Juliana International Airport, the Harbor, the House of Detention in Pointe Blanche, the Detention Center is Simpson Bay, TeLEm, St. Maarten Medical Center, The Fire Department in Cay Hill, the Court House in Philipsburg, the Coast Guard offices, the Police Detention Center in Philipsburg, the Government Administration Building, the island utility company GEBE, SOL and Texaco fuel farms in Cay Bay, the Parliament building, the and the Central Bank building.

Minister responsible for TEATT Stuart Johnson stated that there is a significant safety concern and as a such, the improper use of drones can cause severe damage. He pointed out that the airspace in St. Maarten, as in many countries, is a vital part of our lives since this is airspace for arrival and departures of aircraft.

“The protection of our sky is most important and critical for the continued protection of our lives and the protection of the fragile economy,” said Johnson. He mentioned that in consultation with the Department of Civil Aviation, Shipping and Maritime his ministry has designated key areas which are considered “no fly zones” for drones or other remotely operated aircraft by ministerial decree.

The areas includes Maho Beach, Simpson Bay, Mullet Bay and Kim Sha Beach and as a result no drone activity will be allowed on these beaches. He said that exemptions and authorizations will only be possible for specific activities such as inspections, search and rescue operations, patrolling and special promotional activities.

The request for such activities must go through the Department of Civil Aviation which is situated in Philipsburg and the restrictions will be strictly enforced. The Department of Civil Aviation is presently finalizing the policy of the use of drones and other remotely piloted aircraft, said Johnson.

He called on the population that when using drones or remotely piloted aircraft persons should take all the necessary precautions in flying them indoors or in areas where there are crowds or between houses since this could create additional safety risk for the pilot, the inhabitants and the property. It is also advised that pilots of remotely aircraft should also use a “spotter” who could help in navigating safely.