New regulations restrict drone flight


New regulations published in the government’s Official Gazette this week have established new rules for the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV).
The so-called “drones,” which have brought joy to fans of the aerial photography and videography, will now operate under specific and detailed regulations that include restrictions such as altitude, location and hours of operation – drones are now prohibited from operating at night.
Two of the most controversial new rules are related to altitude, now restricting flight to 30 meters, just over two-thirds of the devices’ normal capacity, and making it impossible to fly the UAVs at night.
The list of locations where it is forbidden to fly drones, which already include airport and heliport areas, has also grown. Under the new regulations, the permitted distance from these facilities is set to over one kilometer.
A new list of government institutions as well as other “sensitive” areas was also added, preventing UAVs from entering airspace within 50 meters of the Government Headquarters, the Legislative Assembly building, and the Court of Final Appeal building; as well as the official residences of the Chief Executive and principal officials of Macau and the Central People’s Government.
Also on the new list are the Macau Prison and Youth Correctional Institution, as well as the Ka Ho power station and electrical power substations, the headquarters of Macao Water Supply Company and the Ka Ho Fuel Farm.
Another new requirement requires drones not to operate in an area where there are more than 100 people.
Questioned by the Times on the new regulation, André Branco, creative director and CG artist of Crane Productions, which uses “drones” professionally, stated “The law on UAV or UAS [Unmanned Aerial System] needs to be discussed with people within the filming industry.”
“Macau needs to be known as a place [which is] up-to-date with new technologies and new ways to tell a story. Other matters are of bigger concern, like speeding buses on the road; drivers not slowing down or stopping at crosswalks.”
Branco agrees with the introduction of safety measures and the registration of drone pilots with proper training, but said that the region needs to be more in tune with global trends, and become more liberal in some areas in order to create possibilities “for the creative film industry to prosper locally.”
“What I have read so far sounds very restrictive, such as a 30-meter altitude restriction,” Branco said, adding “I hope that we, as an industry, can be consulted before any legislation is put into force, because it would be a shame if Macau’s Creative Industry and our profession were compromised by too many rules that would restrict our ability to showcase Macau’s urban scenery at its best.”
He said the territory needed to enjoy “the same creative leeway” as the rest of the world.

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