Drone import policy soon: Ministry of Commerce
Zahid Hossain Biplob: Dhaka Customs House has sought a decision from the National Board of Revenue (NBR) on the seized 1321 drones for mitigating hassle.
Recently, Abdul Mannan Sikder, commissioner of Dhaka Customs House sent a letter to the NBR in taking decision which was seized from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport at different times.
Still, drones are entering the country illegally as there is no import policy on the matter. The NBR along with the Ministry of Commerce are working on formulating a policy regarding the matter, said the ministry sources.
However, the authority concerned of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport did not find any owners of the said seized drones.
At this circumstance, the NBR asked the Customs House to keep it under their supervision but now, the Customs House want decision as it is undecided since long.
Currently the commerce ministry is not giving permission to import drones since there is no policy regarding the matter. The NBR imposed a ban on drone import in November 2015.
Since then Dhaka Customs House and Customs Intelligence and Investigation Directorate have seized many drones.
The commerce ministry is now taking opinions from related organisations including Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) to formulate a policy on importing drones.
Shamima Yasmin, additional secretary of commerce ministry, said: “Currently there is no policy on drone import. If anybody applies for importing drones they are not given permission.
“We have sought opinions of different ministries and organisations regarding formulation of a policy. The policy will be made considering the opinions”, she said.
Meanwhile, the CAAB has taken an initiative to make it mandatory for drone operators to be licenced to fly these remote-controlled aircrafts in addition to registering the drones.
The government now allows flying of drones following submission of applications but authorities have no data on drones and their owners.
CAAB is now amending the existing regulations of drones by adding the provision for registration and licensing.
Sources said operators have to take permit from the CAAB to fly drones 45 days before.
The authority gives the permission after scrutiny through the Ministry of Defense.
The applicant will have to provide information such as where the drone will be flown, who will operate the drone, the size of the drone and other related issues in the five-page application.
According to a circular issued by Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) regarding rules and regulations of flying drones on January 30, 2014, aircrafts are operated in Bangladesh under the regulations of CAAB and the air force.
People will have to take permission from the CAAB and air force prior to fly drones, it said.
The CAAB regulations titled “Regulations for operating remotely piloted aircraft systems” stipulates that people under 18 will not be allowed to fly drones.
Sources said, a person can’t fly a drone within eight hours of taking alcohol. If a drone causes any harm, then the operator will have to take the responsibility.
According to the regulation, before flying a drone in an area, fire service and police forces of the related area must be informed.
A drone can’t be flown 200 meters above from the land. If anybody needs to fly a drone within 10 nautical miles of an airport they must take permission from the aerodrome operator of the airport. A person can’t fly more than one drone at a time.
An official of flight safety and regulations division at Civil Aviation Authority said: “We already have a regulation on drone. With the advancement of technology we have to amend the regulations.
“Previously permission was given to fly drones. But now drone operators will be brought under licensing to ensure accountability and control their operations.”
The official also said: “We want to make sure drones are no barrier for the movement of aircrafts and helicopters in the sky. We have taken the initiative to award licenses for drones to know who are buying drones and make sure drones are not used for sabotage acts.
“We are attaching priorities on safety features of drones,” the official said.
Civil Aviation Authority Member (Operations and Planning) Mostafizur Rahman said: “As per the existing regulation, we give permission to fly drones after scrutiny. Work is underway to formulate a policy on drone operations.”