Lately, drones have played multiple roles away from their military uses, as the technological development of drones has led to the expansion of their use in civil and commercial purposes by several companies in different countries.
Some of the fields that drones are used include the following:
- Fire Fights: A drone helps institutes to decide within minutes the type and amount of resources needed to send to the scene of a forest fire. Some drones are also equipped with thermal sensors, which use infrared radiation to help first responders locate heat signatures of humans and fire hotspots that show where fires are most likely to spread
- Medical field: where it can be used in first aid operations for the injured and prepare all they need before going to the hospital.
- Transporting goods: Such as what Amazon did in delivering orders to its customers in the United States
- Media photography: Owning a drone in the process of covering and transmitting events became one of the necessary media tools, as it depicts all hard-to-reach places. In addition, it is used in filming.
Therefore, the Egyptian legislator worked on issuing Law that regulates drones' uses in the Egyptian territory, but unfortunately, this law was issued with several restrictions, as it is largely influenced by concerns related to the non-civilian uses of these Drones, which may be used in armed conflicts or terrorist crimes that can harm the national security.
Article 1 of the Law No. 216 of the year 2017, regarding regulating using drones in Egypt defined Drones as following: "Drones: Any object that can fly without a pilot without contact with others using any type of technology, whatever its shape or size, and it can be loaded with additional loads, whether it is devices, equipment, armament systems, ammunition, explosives, which may threaten the national security of the country, and it is operated or controlled remotely."
Hence, the law provided a broad definition for the "Drones" term, that includes any object able to fly without a pilot and can be loaded with another object.
Law No. 216 of the year 2017 prohibits the use of drones in Egypt, import, manufacturing, trading, possessing, trading in, or using "drones", except after obtaining a permit from the competent authority, which is limited by the aforementioned Law's Executive Regulations No. 931 of the year 2018 to the Ministry of Defense.
In case of not obtaining the mentioned permit from the Ministry of Defense, a penalty of imprisonment for a duration not less than one year and not exceeding seven years, and a fine of not less than 5000 EGP and not exceeding 50000 EGP, or either of these two penalties, shall be imposed on anyone who imports, manufactures, possessing, trading, or using Drones that are powered by mechanically or wirelessly without a permit from the competent authority, and the penalty shall be doubled in case of recurrence. And the penalty shall be life imprisonment if any of the criminal acts stipulated previously are committed for a terrorist purpose. Also the penalty shall be death if the act results in the death of a person.
In all cases, the court shall rule for the confiscation of the machines and tools used in the crime in favor of the armed forces.
Regarding Drones manufacturing or leasing activities, the Executive Regulation regulated this processes through the following rules and procedures:
- An application for obtaining a permit shall be submitted to the Armed Forces Authority – Operations Department with the documents that would be requested from the authority.
- The application shall include the number of drones to be authorized, their specifications, and the destination for obtaining them.
- The application shall be decided upon by acceptance or rejection within thirty days from the date of its submission, and the lapse of the period without a response shall be considered as a rejection.
- The competent authority issues the permit for a period not exceeding three years, and notifies the authorized person by a registered letter with acknowledgment of receipt, and provides the competent authority with a copy of it.
- The permit shall be renewed at the request of the authorized person to the competent authority three months prior to the date of its expiry.
- A register shall be allocated to the competent authority in which the issued permits, their dates, and those authorized shall be entered.
- The authorized person is obliged to keep two records, one of them to register his Drones, their specifications and the destination for obtaining them, and the other records the date of circulation and use of the Drones, and the provisions of registration in the commercial registers apply to them, and a number of specialists determined by the competent authority shall be audited.
- In the event of non-approval for the renewal of the permit or the termination of the authorized activity, the authorized person shall not dispose of his Drones and inform the competent authority, within no more than three days, of all the data of such aircraft, until the legalization of their position or the issuance of a decision in this regard.
- In the event that the authorized person wishes to transfer ownership of his Drones or one of them, he shall submit an application to the competent authority, and a decision shall be made within thirty days from the date of submission, complete with the required documents.
It is worth mentioning that the aforementioned Law's Executive Regulation No. 931 of the year 2018, regulates issuing the permissions to use "drones" for commercial, sports or research purposes in Articles Nos. (3) (4) (5) as following:
- Submitting an application from the economic or commercial authority, the company, the scientific institution, or the sports club.
- A statement of the purpose of use and its locative and temporal scope.
- A statement of the nature of the activity, and the members who use it, accompanied by a copy of the national ID card.
- Security approvals from the National Security Authority, and the Public Security Sector for the entities and individuals practicing the activity.
- The Commercial Register and Tax Card showing the authorized economic and commercial activities
- The approval of the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
Furthermore, The Executive Regulation No. 931 of the year 2018 differentiates between the termination of the license and its cancellation by the competent authority:
- On one hand: Termination the license as per Article 8 of the aforementioned Executive Regulation:
- If the authorized person does not submit an application to renew the permit on time.
- The authorized person's waiver of the permit.
- Expiration or demise of the public or private legal person.
- The death of the authorized person.
- On the other hand: Cancellation the license as per Article 8 of the aforementioned Executive Regulation
- Violation of the permit conditions.
- Change of activity or end of purpose.
- The existence of a danger that threatens national security or prejudices public interest.
Although the law and its regulation contain several restrictions as it is largely influenced by concerns related to the non-civilian uses of these Drones, which may be used in terrorist crimes that can harm national security, the Executive Regulation have exempted some types of "drones" from the requirement to obtain a permit, if the following technical specifications are available in them:
- The weight of the drone should not exceed 150 grams;
- Not to be equipped with GPS or automated flight (point-to-point flight without control);
- It is not possible to provide it with different picture systems, normal/thermal, or any other type;
- Inability to fly for a distance of more than 100 meters or a height not exceeding five meters;
- Not to be loaded with any payload whatsoever; and
- Children's games that do not meet the aforementioned conditions.
Finally, it should be noted that the Executive Regulation mentioned specific methods that must be followed in order to determine the availability of specifications that exempt "drones" from the requirement to obtain a permit; Where the regulation obliges the entity requesting the permit to submit an application to the Operations Department of the Ministry of Defense, and a report from the Customs Authority shall be attached to the request regarding the availability of the specifications referred to in the regulation, and approval is issued after being examined by specialists from the Ministry of Defense within thirty days from the date of submitting the application.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.