A drone enthusiast enrolling for the mandatory certification course at Sanad Academy Image Credit: XPRESS/Antonin Kélian Kallouche

Dubai: Over 1,000 drone owners including 700 hobbyists have been certified in Dubai since the launch of Sanad Academy, the UAE’s only RPA (Remotely Piloted Aircraft) training and certification centre, set up three year ago.

Drone owners cannot get a pilot licence from the DCAA without this certification.

Located at Al Lisalli flying field, the academy is the first dedicated centre in the region for drones. It was established by the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA) to test and certify drone operators and drones in UAE with DCAA Endorsement.

Wake-up call

“There was an incident some time ago when someone flew his drone close to the Dubai International Airport forcing authorities to shut down the airport. It was a wake-up call to regulate drone operations,” said Mansour Al Blooshi, chairman, Sanad Academy and winner of the ‘drone for good’ award, 2017.

“We are endorsed by DCAA and work closely with them to certify remote aircraft pilots. The idea is to also raise awareness among people about no flying zones,” added Al Blooshi.

Flying unregistered drones is against the law. According to resolution No. 4 of 2017, relating to DCAA, violators flying unregistered drones will be slapped with a Dh20,000 fine and in some cases even a jail term.

Training and certification

The academy is a training ground for both hobbyists and professional drone operators. Those looking to get a licence from DCAA to fly drones have to undergo a mandatory certification course from Sanad Academy.

The Sanad RPAS Basic certification (Dh350) is designed for hobbyists piloting light aircrafts below four kilograms.

Professionals piloting aircrafts below 12kg need a Sanad RPAS Professional (PRPAS) certification which costs Dh 750.

Certificates for commercial drones (15kg) cost Dh 4,700.

Candidates are provided with a theory hand book prior to the assessments and need to score a minimum 85 per cent.

The assessment includes questions focused around basic aircraft knowledge, safety procedures and civil aviation rules/regulations.

“Once the applicants pass the exam they go to DCAA to get their licence. The process takes between seven and 10 days,” said Al Balooshi.