UAE aviation body prepares for ‘passenger drones’

UAE rules for commercial drones

[Editor’s Note: Laila bin Hareb, Assistant Director General, Strategy and International Affairs, shared that drones are currently being used to investigate accidents. She shared that in the future, “passenger” drones will exist, making cars obsolete.]

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The UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) is gearing up for the future use of drones, including “passenger” drones, even as it plans to issue new laws to curb the potential risks of these unmanned aerial vehicles.

In September this year, Dubai International Airport was closed for almost 30 minutes due to unauthorised drone activity. The new regulations are being worked out after the incident, which will be applicable across the UAE.

In March 2015, Abu Dhabi banned sale of drones, but drones are being sold in retail shops across Dubai.

“Yes, we are putting limitations but it [drones] is the future. People are using it for so many things,” Laila bin Hareb, Assistant Director General, Strategy and International Affairs, told Arabian Business on Monday after the GCAA announced its 2017-2021 strategy plan.

“We don’t want to stop the future but we need to be ready for the future. So we don’t want to put fines or anything. We want it to be safe and so we really need to think carefully about regulations and not put limitations.”

She added: “There is a lot of good implementation for drones. We have our own drones that we use for investigation for accidents where we can’t reach. Drone application will be tremendous [in future]. You will have “passenger” drones… your own drone taking you anywhere and so cars will be obsolete. That is the future.”

In its 2017-2021 strategy plan report, the GCAA points to a series of future trends which include solar powered aircraft, drones carrying passengers, flying cars, “jet men”, and pre-loading passengers in to cabin pods even before an aircraft arrives and 3D printing for aerospace industry.

In November 2015, ‘Jetman’ (Yves Rossy) and ‘Jetman Junior’ (Vince Reffet) took to the skies to fly beside an Emirates A380 plane in a promotional video.

 The emirate also signed a contract with US-based Martin Aircraft Company to purchase 20 jetpacks and two training simulators for the Dubai Civil Defence service.

In its vision for the future, Airbus has already predicted that the cabin walls of planes could be transparent and cabins could also feature holographic gaming displays and seats that adjust to each passenger’s size and shape by 2050.


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