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Information for owners and operators

Part 101 is applicable to RPAS operated for the purpose of:

  • Commercial operations
  • Corporate operations
  • Non-profit operations
  • Private Operations


The following are excluded:

  • Autonomous unmanned aircraft
  • Unmanned free balloons
  • Aircraft operated in terms of Part 94
  • Model aircraft
  • Toy aircraft


RPAS Operations Versus Required Approvcal 

  Type of Operation Commercial Corporate Non-profit Private



NOTE: RMT is required for maintenance on RPAS classified as class 3 and higher ​ ​ ​ ​ ​



  • ASL – Air Service Licence 
  • ROC – RPAS Operators Certificate 
  • RLA – RPAS Letter of Approval 
  • RPL – Remote Pilot Licence 
  • CofR – Certificate of Registration
  • RMT – RPAS Maintenance Technician


RPAS Classification

*  Refer to Regulation 101.01.3 and Document SA-CATS 101 for grouping and classification of RPAS.  (Click on "Legislation" to the right of this page to view Regulations.)


RPAS classification parameters 

Classification of RPA is achieved through four parameters;

  1. Mass of an RPA 
  2. Impact velocity of an RPA (this value has to be converted to an impact energy of the RPA)  
  3. Height above ground level  
  4. Flight rules 

Determination of RPA impact energy 

Refer to APPENDIX B of Technical Guidance Material (TGM) for RPAS Part 101 for instructions and example of how to determine impact energy of an RPA. Please click here to access the TGM.


Rules of Flight

Radio line-of-sight (RLOS)

RLOS means a direct electronic point-to-point contact between a transmitter and receiver. See appendix C for illustration diagrams. The following options are available for RLOS:

  • R-VLOS  
  • VLOS  
  • EVLOS 


See APPENDIX C of Technical Guidance Material (TGM) for RPAS Part 101 pictorial view of RLOS flight rules.  Please click here to access the TGM.


NOTE: Currently, RPAS operations are limited to RLOS operations.   Beyond radio line-of-sight (BRLOS) is reserved for future use 


Accidents and Incidents 

The purpose of investigation of an accident or incident is, subject to section 12 of the Act, to determine, in terms of the provisions of this part, the facts of an accident or incident in the interest of the promotion of aviation safety and the reduction of the risk of aviation accidents or incidents, and not to establish legal liability.  Once accident investigations are concluded a report is compiled in the interest of promoting aviation safety. 

What has to be reported to the SACAA? 

All accidents and incidents involving an RPA shall be reported as prescribed in Part 12, where there is –.

  1. any injury or death to a person;
  2. damage to property; or
  3. destruction of the RPA beyond economical repair. 

Note: All incidents involving an RPA where loss of control occurred shall be reported to the holder of the RPAS Operators Certificate (ROC).   

The SACAA website has a list of investigators on standby who should be contacted should an accident or incident occur.




Through act or omission, endanger the safety of another aircraft or person therein or any person or property through negligent flying/operation of Remotely Piloted Aircraft, or toy aircraft.

Do not fly/operate Remotely Piloted Aircraft, or toy aircraft 50 m or closer from:

  1. Any person or group of persons (like sports field, road races, schools, social events, etc.)
  2. Any property without permission from the property owner.

Unless approved by the SACAA, DO NOT fly/operate Remotely Piloted Aircraft or toy aircraft:

  1. Near manned aircraft
  2. 10 km or closer to an aerodrome (airport, helipad, airfield)
  3.  Weighing more than 7 kg 
  4. In controlled airspace
  5. In restricted airspace
  6. In prohibited airspace.

Do not fly/operate Remotely Piloted Aircraft, or toy aircraft higher than 150 ft from the ground, unless approved by the Director of Civil Aviation of the SACAA.


  1. Fly/operate Remotely Piloted Aircraft, or toy aircraft in a safe manner, at all times.
  2. Remotely Piloted Aircraft or toy aircraft should remain within the visual line of sight at all times.
  3. Fly/operate RPA in daylight and clear weather conditions.
  4. Inspect your aircraft before each flight.

The user should ensure that they are aware of the airspace that they intend to operate in.

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