Zambia Air Force Commander Lt Gen Eric Chimese says people who wish to fly drones outside their residential premises will need to get licences from the Civil Aviation Authority.

In an interview with News Diggers! Lt Gen Chimese said some people were using the remote-controlled pilotless flying gadgets to invade the privacy of other citizens while at the same time endangering the safety of real aircrafts, as they were flying at restricted altitudes.

He said a ban had been put in place to regulate the flying of drones, but hastened to note that it would be difficult to completely restrict children from playing with certain types of drones which were sold in digital stores.

“What is happening now is that all these drones which are sometimes just regarded as toys, are so capable. They can go to levels where even aircraft operates. So it’s very risky. The development of the drone technology is moving so fast, even faster than the stealth [drone] itself. So countries are struggling in terms of controlling the use of drones. However, our people have been attending quite a lot of meetings in Canada and locally trying to see how this can be dealt with. I know for sure it will be very complicated to ban every drone from flying around, like for those small little ones if they are just for internal use at home. But those that you actually have to operate outside your premises it becomes necessary. Because they had very powerful cameras, they are going to come to your house and infringe on your privacy,” Chimese explained.

“Sometimes there are flights that are required to be flown low, but that drone is metal. If that metal is ingested in an engine at the speed the blades run for the compressors and turbines, definitely it’s a catastrophe; there is no debate about it. So we have this challenge. What we came up with and what is there, actually is the Civil Aviation legislation which actually demands that we have all these big drones registered. I know some people will resist to have their drones [registered] because they are so many and capacity also becomes a challenge. But we need these things regulated for the safety of everybody.”

Chimese disclosed that some mining companies were operating huge drones, which some employees were abusing.

“Now away from these ones, there are a lot of companies, mining companies that are using commercial drones. Mining [companies], they sometimes don’t get authority they will just fly them on their own. We have received quite a lot of complaints through our Air Defence Unit that they had seen one flying and wondered who authorised it. Other residents complain, ‘no it came and flew over our house taking pictures’. So the major problems are two; invading privacy of individuals and two, danger to a flying aircraft. Those are the two major things that we are trying to protect, people’s privacy and the danger with the other flying aircraft,” said Chimese.