Flying drones is an incredible experience, but whether you are using a drone recreationally or professionally, you need to know the regulations in place for their use wherever you happen to be planning to fly.
What about drone use in Colombia? Can you bring a drone in, and will you be allowed to fly it once you get there?
Yes, whether you are traveling to Columbia or already living in the country, the government does allow you to fly your drone. If you are flying for commercial purposes or your drone weighs over 25kg, you must complete training at a CAAC-accredited flight school and log 40+ hours of flight time as a drone operator.
All drones over 250g must be registered, and you must obtain permission for each flight of a drone in Class B or C categories. Class A drone flights do not require prior flight approval.
Currently, the government does not allow the transport of people or goods in drones.
Who regulates the use of drones in Colombia?
The Civil Aeronautics is the entity that generates aviation regulations and monitors air activities, in addition to keeping records of aircraft, whether manned or not.
Due to the high number of unmanned aircraft that are being used, the entity has decided to regulate the industry.
This regulation is established in RAC 91 (Aeronautical Regulations of Colombia), in appendix 13, and also in Resolution No. 04201, in which the information on the types of pilots, their responsibilities and limitations, the form of registering drones, and also request for flight permits.
Using your drone in Colombia
If you do not comply with the regulations put in place by the Colombian government, the flight of your drone can be considered illegal. This implies receiving sanctions and fines.
Knowing the rules will help you avoid possible punishments.
The weight of the drone is classified into three categories: Class A, B, and C.
Class A flights do not require approval, but Class B and C flights do.
However, Class A pilots (as well as Class B and C) must register their drones with the aviation authority before flying. Registration includes:
- Name and address of the pilot
- Document number
- Phone number
- Email address
- Make and model of the drone
- Serial number of drone
You can find the form to register your drone here.
Before bringing your drone into Colombia, you should complete this drone registration. The completed form can be sent to this email address: email@example.com
Drone weight classes
Depending on the weight of the drone and the activity you are going to carry out, you may need training to fly drones in Colombia.
Class A drones are those that weigh 250g to 25kg.
In addition, drones that weigh less than 250 grams, as they are not considered dangerous, can be used without training and without prior flight authorization.
Unlicensed drones such as the DJI Mavic Mini 2, which weighs 249 grams, just below the limit stipulated by the regulation, are usually for recreational use and are also included in category A. You can fly them without permission as long as you respect the airspace.
Remember that if you are going to use a drone for commercial benefits, you must take a professional drone pilot course and be registered in the pilot database of civil aviation.
If your drone qualifies for category A, but you are going to use it for commercial service, you must have your certificate as a professional drone pilot and be registered in the civil aeronautics pilot database.
These are drones that weigh between 25kg and 150kg. They are considered medium risk.
All operators must have the drone pilot training as discussed below, and every flight must have prior flight approval. See the next section for more information.
Class C drones weigh more than 150kg and are considered high risk. All operators must have the drone pilot training as discussed below, and every flight must have prior flight approval. See the next two headings for more information.
All operators of Class B and C drones must be registered with the civil aeronautics pilot database.
Drone pilot training
While you are not required to have a drone pilot license per se to fly a drone in Colombia, you must have 40+ hours of flight experience, plus training through an approved institute.
The CAAC provides a list of approved training institutes, or alternatively, universities with Aeronautical or Aerospace Engineering programs with continuing education for UAVs.
Apply for flight permission
Before each and every drone flight of Class B and C drones, the operator must make a Request for Authorization and a Request for Permission of Operation from the CAAC.
This authorization request form must be submitted 15 business days before the scheduled date of the flight.
The application must include the following information:
- Name and contact info of the flight applicant
- Description and purpose of the operation
- Date and location of the planned flight
- Flight level and time
- Risk assessment of the operation
Here’s the form for an authorization request.
Important rules for drone pilots in Colombia
There are some important rules associated with flying a drone in Columbia that you should know about.
- According to the Columbian agency CAAC responsible for drone flying, all pilots must receive training prior to flying.
- In addition, pilots must apply to the CAAC for approval of each flight.
- Pilots must not fly in strong winds or other inclement weather.
- Pilots must not fly above 500 feet above ground level.
- Pilots must not fly in congested areas or over people.
- Pilots must not fly more than 164 feet (50 meters) from any object, individual, or structure.
- The drone must not be more than 2,460 feet (750 meters) from its operator.
- While in flight, the pilot must avoid dropping or throwing any object.
- Pilots must not fly within a mile radius of the location of the President, Vice President, or any foreign or national authority.
- Pilots must fly more than 3.1 miles away from any airport.
- Pilots must not fly over or near a military base or correctional facility.
- Pilots must have a radio receiver to communicate with the closest airport control tower.