Today, the Mexican Aeronautic Agency (equivalent to the United States Federal Air Administration and to Transport Canada) issued the “Mandatory Administrative Regulations to operate Unmanned Air Vehicle Systems (UAVs)” (the “Regulations”), thereby substituting Regulations CO AV-23/10 R2.
The Regulations provide for new requirements to operate UAVs, also known as Drones, and apply to all operators (both individuals and entities), in UAV categories of Micro (under 2 kg), Small (between 2 kg and 25 kg) and Big (more than 25 kg), used for Recreational, Commercial and Private Non-Commercial purposes.
Unlike prior regulations, these new Regulations do provide for sanctions in case of failure to comply with them. Sanctions amount to fines amounting up to approximately US$20,300 in accordance with the Civil Aviation Law and regardless of any other civil or criminal responsibilities arising thereof.
Generally, the Regulations include several guidelines that must be complied with to operate any category of UAVs (Micro UAVs, Small UAVs and Big UAVs), unless such UAVs are operated in airplane modelling clubs, including the following:
(i) Requirements to operate UAVs
- Obtain an operation authorization pertaining to Small UAVs and Big UAVs. This requirement also applies to Micro UAVs when used to take aero-photographs in accordance with section (iii) below;
- Obtain a civil responsibility insurance covering third party damages, amounting to approximately US$142,000.
(ii) Obligations and restrictions in operation
- Operate in places that are at least 9.2 kilometers (5 NM) away from aerodromes and 0.9 kilometers (0.5 NM) away from heliports;
- Operate Micro UAVs at a maximum altitude of 122 meters (400 ft), as well as Small UAVs and Big UAVs at a maximum altitude of 152 meters (500 ft);
- Restriction to operate in prohibited, restricted or dangerous areas per applicable regulations;
- Restriction to operated (indoor or outdoor) in places where more than 12 persons get together;
- Restriction to operate beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) of the pilot and/or further than 457 meters (1500 ft) of the ground control station.
(iii) Special authorizations for aero-photograph
- Obtain authorization from the National Defense Ministry (“SEDENA” per its acronym in Spanish) for aero-photograph, aero-topography and photogrammetry;
- Obtain authorization from the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (“INEGI” per its Spanish acronym) to obtain aero-photographs with metric cameras or recognition cameras, as well as to other images through remote perception mechanisms.
In addition, these Regulations include a “pilot license of UAVs” as a new requirement to operate Small UAVs and Big UAVs, this is, UAVs weighting over 2 kilograms. Operators of Micro UAVs (i.e., those weighting 2 kilograms or less) must have appropriate aeronautic knowledge.
To sum up, the Regulations provide for several guidelines to operate UAVs that include obligations and restrictions, as well as sanctions upon failure to comply. These guidelines must be observed not only by operators of UAVs (pilots), but also by those who render services through UAVs and those who hire such services.
Finally, it is worth noting that these Regulations result from adapting several best practices recognized internationally for the use of UAVs. In this regard, the Regulations are an effort from the Mexican aeronautic authorities to regulate the operation of UAVs in Mexico, after having identified the need to guarantee UAV operation in a safe, harmonized and smooth manner, comparable to the operation of manned aircrafts.
The increased use of UAVs both for recreational and commercial purposes have resulted in the need of regulating their operation in Mexico. UAVs are now important tools to reduce costs and improve the effectiveness of several activities within companies. Considering this reality and the imminent regulation of UAVs operation in Mexico, it is very relevant that UAV operators along with the beneficiaries of UAV services make sure that UAV operation is conducted in a safe manner and in strict compliance with the applicable regulations, so as to avoid accidents and sanctions, economical and, in its case, criminal.
Nowadays there are several operators that offer UAV services without complying with the aforementioned regulations, thereby resulting in risks not only for said operators, but also for the companies that benefit from their services.
In AMACUZAC, aside from offering services using the most advanced technologies, including UAVs and remote sensors best adapting to our clients’ needs, we are committed to providing these services in safe conditions and strict compliance with applicable regulations.
This newsletter has been prepared for information purposes only and is not meant to include a comprehensive analysis of the Regulations. Therefore, it should not be interpreted as an opinion from AMACUZAC pertaining to the rights, obligations and consequences that could arise in a particular case.
The members of AMACUZAC will be happy to assist you should you require further information about the topic discussed here or any other topic pertaining to the services we offer.