Myths, truths and between-lines about the commercial use of drones
By Carlos Marcelo Cardoso Fernandes and Dane Avanzi
Increasingly, drones are used by companies and government entities worldwide for the most diverse types of activities. It is important to remember that the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization), an international organization that is part of the UN structure and of which Brazil is one of the founding members, considers drones as an aircraft, even without a pilot on board. In this way, drones are applied, in professional use, the rules, rules, laws and international good practices of Civil Aviation, in favor of the security of society and aviation.
In Brazil, there are three federal agencies responsible for the regulation of ARP (Remotely Piloted Aircraft), another nomenclature used for drones. They are: ANAC, DECEA and ANATEL.
ANAC (National Aviation Agency) is responsible for the airworthiness and systems requirements of the aircraft, its remote pilot and the pilot workstation. In short, she is responsible for registering the aircraft and its pilots. This register has criteria related to the class of the aircraft and its purpose, a resource that guarantees the efficiency and legal security necessary for the operation. Another important point is that the operator is linked to the aircraft – in cases of disconnection or transfer of the user to another function, the registration must be updated.
DECEA (Airspace Control Department) is responsible for the flow and control of aircraft in Brazilian airspace. With the advancement of drone technology, air space will soon be shared by manned and unmanned aircraft. Today, this is already happening in a test environment in several locations around the world, including Brazil. Thus, it is recommended that all flights for professional use be reported to DECEA and carried out with their prior authorization, subject to the specific rules of places where the flight cannot occur. Aeromodelling practitioners are exempt from reporting flights, as they already have predetermined locations for the practice of the sport.
ANATEL (National Telecommunications Agency) is responsible for controlling the radio frequencies that control drones. There is a group of frequencies destined worldwide by the ITU (International Telecommunication Union) for the link between the operating table and the aircraft. In cases of loss of the telecommunications link, the drone may experience problems and, eventually, lose control, with the possibility of accidents and incidents. Thus, it is worth mentioning that some drones have the approval certificate from ANATEL and others do not. Those that do not have it can be approved by their owners in a long and complex online form that, to have adherence and effectiveness, must be correctly filled out.
Another factor that few pay attention to is the routine maintenance of drones. Just as an automobile has a review routine, a drone needs the same care, especially regarding critical items, propellers, batteries and the engine. The preventive and corrective maintenance of these items cannot be neglected, under the risk of putting the lives of third parties at risk, in addition to total or partial loss of the aircraft.
Another legal requirement little observed is the contracting of insurance for the aircraft, provided that it is properly approved and authorized for that specific flight, under penalty of non-payment of the amount by the insurer in the event of an accident. Just like registering with ANAC and regularizing flights at DECEA, the look of a specialist can make a difference.
For managers and public administrators in general, ANAC granted the right to use drones to support essential services to the community, such as surveillance, rescue, combating the dengue mosquito, Public Security, among others. To this end, the public administration must prepare an Operational Risk Assessment and Management Plan. This plan aims to prevent the rules of ANATEL, ANAC and DECEA from being breached, in addition to preventing and mitigating risks in operations with drones in populated areas.
Given the above, it can be noted that there are many advantages of drone technology, which need to be used with awareness and discernment when its use is commercial or for the purpose of serving the population. Such awareness must begin with the entity’s manager or administrator, who is even responsible for all acts practiced by agents and collaborators, as well as for aircraft operators who need to know the least about the national legislation that regulates the service.
Dane Avanzi is a lawyer and Legal Director at Grupo Avanzi. Carlos Marcelo Cardoso Fernandes is a Business Administrator and Colonel Intendente of the FAB Reserve. Both are authors of the book “Operation of Drones: responsibilities, duties and precautions of individual and business operators“.