Published 17th October 2013, 1:57pm

The use of radio controlled model aircraft (also described as Small Unmanned Aircraft [SUA] or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles [UAV] for Aerial Work within Cayman Islands airspace.

The Air Navigation (Overseas Territories) Order (AN[OT]O) includes any form of unmanned aeroplane or helicopter, irrespective of size and motive power, as an aircraft for the purposes of aviation safety regulation.  For the avoidance of doubt, this includes radio controlled model aircraft as identified in Article 40 of the AN[OT][Amendment] Order 2011.

Originally, radio controlled model aircraft were considered to be a recreational activity requiring limited regulation providing the model weighed less than 20 kgs. Model aircraft weighing less than 7kgs were virtually unregulated except by the hobby’s (advisory) governing bodies.

In recent years, with the advent of miniaturized technology and light-weight materials, radio control model aircraft have become versatile and capable aerial platforms for data gathering activities.  Light-weight, low-cost designs are now on the market and the ‘under 7kg’ category of model aircraft are now being used for commercial application otherwise known as Aerial Work.  Aerial work is, in itself, a regulated activity as described in Articles 78 and 157 of the AN[OT] 2007 as amended.  In the context of Aerial Work, radio controlled model aircraft are known as Small Unmanned Aircraft (SUA) or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV).

There have already been numerous requests from individuals and organizations in the Cayman Islands intent on operating SUAs on a commercial basis.  Such activity must be approved in advance by the Civil Aviation Authority in order to protect both the general public and airspace users from the potential hazard generated by otherwise uncontrolled activities within controlled airspace and congested areas.

Enquiries concerning the operation of SUAs within the Cayman Islands should be made, in the first instance, to the Director of Air Navigation Services Regulation, telephone no, 1 345 949 7811 ext 242.