Published On: Mon, Feb 10th, 2020

Use of drones prohibited from No Fly Zones

Drone Photo Regatta 2019_pic4

PHILIPSBURG — The Department of Civil Aviation informs the public that with the implementation of the Ministerial Regulation limiting the use of RPAS/UAS or drones, there are zones now established where drone flights are prohibited, so-called No Fly Zones.

In this article we will discuss what does this means for the many drone pilots exercising their craft here on St. Maarten taking aerial photos and making drone video footages by operating their aerial crafts, such as remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS)/unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) or drones as they are colloquially called.

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Drones flights in these ‘no fly zones’ can only occur after exemptions/authorizations have been granted to do so by the Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication. One such zone is the area of four (4) kilometers from the boundary of the Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA), which includes the areas of Simpson Bay and sections of the Cole Bay area where the Heineken Regatta activities will take place. In addition to the No Fly Zones, the regulation also prescribe guidelines for safe drone operations. In this regard, individuals are not allowed to operate drones in close vicinity to large crowds and at public events.

“The use of drones has increased both among hobbyists and within the business world.” says Aarti Baran of FLY4Usxm. “Due to this increase, it is important to integrate drones in the airspace in a safe way.” Baran is a professional drone pilot, photographer and videographer. “From the position of the drone user it is always important to respect air traffic.” she says.

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The annual Heineken Regatta is taking place from March 5 until March 8, 2020, thus drone operators are urged to take urgent heed, according to the Ministry. In addition to the aforementioned Ministerial Regulation, the public is also hereby advised that Article 25, paragraph a, of the Aviation National Ordinance prohibits operations in the airspace over St. Maarten in a manner that may endanger or disturb aviation and the public order. Violations of this Ordinance can result in penalties or fines.

“The regatta area falls under a low-level flight zone and is designated as a ‘no fly zone’.” explains Baran in an invited comment via email to StMaartenNews.com. “In order to guarantee the safety of air traffic during the regatta, an exemption request must be submitted together with the requested information. By means of the obtained exemption, the drone pilot is allowed to fly with his drone up to a certain height, with due observance of the applicable laws and regulations, without hindrance to air traffic.”

With the start of the Heineken Regatta on March 5, 2020, the Civil Aviation department indeed will be issuing exemptions/authorizations for the use of drones within the Princess Juliana International Airport NO-FLY Zone only for the purpose of taking aerial photographs or videos of the Regatta. Any individual/company that want to conduct aerial photography or filming of the Regatta must submit a written request to the Department by no later than February 28, 2020.

With this request, the applicant must provide all relevant information on the drone (type model, operations specification) and the details of the operation (takeoff and landing zone, proposed route, company/contract details, etc.). Individuals can submit their written request via email to louis.halley@sintmaartengov.org, arsenio.rombley@sintmaartengov.org or Richard.vanDinter@sintmaartengov.org.

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Remotely piloted aircraft systems unmanned aircraft systems or drones have to be closely monitored while operating in the area of Simpson Bay and near the airport as large numbers of drones operating in these areas can pose a danger to landing and departing aircraft at the airport. In addition, these aircraft systems can also pose a hindrance to the sailing teams taking part in the Regatta. “As such, we are limiting the amount of drones that can operate during the Regatta. Requests will be assessed in the order of which they are received and requests received after the deadline may not be processed.” the statement from the Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication concludes.

“In this way, a win-win situation is created during the Regatta: the drone users are allowed to fly up to a certain height which respects air traffic and at the same time the aviation department has more control and a clear overview of the number of drones with the restrictions imposed within the Regatta area (NO FLY ZONE).” Baran states.


Drone aerial photos provided by Aarti Baran of FLY4Usxm.

Watch a video of a FLY4Usxm videodrone in action during the 2019 regatta>>>

For commercial drone assignments (aerial photography, videos, photoshoots of real estate properties, yachts and commercial developments, etc.), email sales@anykeyservices.com or call/whatsapp +1-721-523-3564.