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THCounsels Legal Services > Aviation  > Drone Regulations in the Philippines

Drone Regulations in the Philippines

Drone Regulations in the Philippines

  1. Are Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) considered as “aircraft” in your country?

Yes. Civil Aviation Authority Act of 2008 (the “Act”) provides that an “Aircraft” refers to any machine that can derive support in the atmosphere from the reactions of the air other than the reactions of the air against the earth’s surface. The term “aircraft,” when used in this Act or in regulations issued under this Act, shall refer to civil aircraft only, and will not include State or public aircraft.

Part 14 of the Civil Aviation Regulations-Air Navigation Services (CAR-ANS Part 14) provides for the following relevant definitions: (1)  “Remotely Piloted Aircraft” (RPA) as an unmanned aircraft which is piloted from a remote pilot station; (2) “Remote Pilot Station” as the component of the remotely piloted aircraft system containing the equipment used to pilot the remotely piloted aircraft; (3) Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) is defined as a remotely piloted aircraft, its associated remote pilot station(s), the required command and control links and any other components as specified in the type design. 

The legal definition of a drone is a Remotely Piloted Aircraft (“RPA”) and is a sub-type of a UAS (unmanned aerial system) or UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle). The Philippine Civil Aviation Regulations (“PCAR”) defines a Remotely Piloted Aircraft (“RPA”) as an unmanned aircraft which is piloted from a remote pilot station. This discussion is specific to RPA type UAS (i.e. drones). Other types of UAS have other specific requirements.

  1. Which bodies regulate the remotely-piloted and/or unmanned aircraft operations in your country, under what basic laws?

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (the “Authority”) regulates the operations of remotely-piloted and/or unmanned aircraft operations in the Philippines. 

  1. Is there a distinction between “State UAS” and “Private UAS”?

Yes.  The Act provides the following classification:   “Civil aircraft” refers to any aircraft other than a State or public aircraft; “Public aircraft” refers to an aircraft used exclusively in the service of any government or of any political jurisdiction thereof, including the Government of the Philippines, but not including any government-owned aircraft engaged in operations which meet the definition of commercial air transport operations.  By definition, aircraft includes a UAS/RPA.  

For an RPA, the PCAR does not provide for a “State UAS” or a Private “UAS.” Instead, it only classified RPA as commercial and non-commercial. 

The nationality and registration marks borne by aircraft shall consist of the following:

(1)”RP” immediately preceding identification number for aircraft used solely for governmental purposes and/or belonging to the Philippine government

(2) “RP-C” will classify aircrafts

(3) “RP-U” will classify RPAs

  1. Is there any distinction between public, leisure and commercial UAS? What regulations are provided for UAS operations in each group?

The PCAR classifies RPA as either commercial or non-commercial. If an RPA is used for remuneration or with compensation (or in the furtherance of business), then it is considered as commercial. On the other hand, if used for sports or recreational purposes, then it is considered as non-commercial. 

The PCAR regulations apply to both commercial and non-commercial operations, which generally covers the following: a) General RPA Operations; b) Restricted Areas of Operation; c) RPA Controller Certificate; d) Certificate of Registration and Special Certificate of Airworthiness.  [PCAR 11.11.1 to 11.11.5]

In addition to the foregoing, the PCAR also provides for the regulatory requirements on the issuance of an RPAS Operator Certificate, including application, eligibility, conditions, limitations, validity, and cancellation.  [PCAR 11.11.6.1 to 11.11.6.13]

PCAR also provides for additional regulations for non-commercial operations, specifically for sport and recreational purposes, covering:  a) Visibility for operation of RPA; b) Operating an RPA at night; c) RPAs Flying Display/Air Show. [PCAR 11.11.7.1 to 11.11.7.4]

  1. Is there a distinction, in terms of regulation, between completely autonomous UAS and remotely-piloted UAS?

Presently, the PCAR presently covers RPA operations only and does not yet provide for separate regulations covering autonomous UAS.  

In general, while a UAS may be autonomous, an RPA (as a specific type of UAS) should be remotely-piloted.  The definition of a UAS is broader than an RPA and means a powered, unmanned aerial vehicle, other than a model aircraft used for sport and recreation, which may be operated autonomously beyond line of sight of the controller but, in all cases, would be subject to remote control by the controller. On the other hand, an RPA is piloted from a remote pilot station by definition.

In particular, for non-commercial operation of an RPA, it can only be operated within visual line of sight and within day time.

As it currently stands, the UAS contemplated under the PCAR is remotely-piloted. 

  1. How are UAS operations regulated in terms of safety?

In view of safety considerations, PCAR regulates RPA operations, whether for commercial or non-commercial purposes, as follows:

1) GENERAL RPA OPERATIONS

A person must not operate a RPA over a populous area at a height less than the height from which, if any of its components fails, it would be able to clear the area.

A person operating a powered RPA must ensure that, while the RPA is in flight, or is landing or taking off, it stays at least 30 meters away from anyone not directly associated with the operation of the RPA except if:  (i) if a person stands behind the RPA while it is taking off; (ii) if, as part of a RPA flying competition, a RPA is flown within 30 meters of a person who is judging a RPA flying competition. [PCAR 11.11.2]

2) RPA RESTRICTED AREAS OF OPERATION

No person may operate RPA within the following envelope unless prior approval has been granted by the Authority: (1) 400ft Above Ground Level (AGL); (2) 10 km radius from the Aerodrome Reference Point (ARP);

The RPA shall stay clear of populated area unless prior approval has been granted by the Authority.

In considering whether to give an approval under this paragraph (b), the Authority may take into account: (i) the degree of redundancy in the RPAs critical systems; (ii) any fail-safe design characteristics of the RPA; and (iii) the security of its communications and navigation systems.

Before giving an approval, the Authority must be satisfied that the person who intends to operate the RPA will take proper precautions to prevent the proposed flight from being dangerous to people and property.

No person may operate an RPA in a controlled or prohibited airspace unless authorized by the Authority. [PCAR 11.11.3]

  1. Is the applicable regulation considering the rule of 1 UAS = 1 pilot?

No such rule is provided in the PCAR.  However, for commercial operations, the PCAR provides for the following: a) RPA must nominate suitable persons as chief RPA controller and maintenance controller; b) 2 or more persons cannot be certified jointly as an RPA operator [11.11.6.5]; c) If the RPA operator operates more than 1 RPA, the chief RPA controller must carry out the duties and functions as such on a full-time basis.  

  1. What procedures are there to obtain licenses or the rights to operate UAS?

For commercial purposes, there are a minimum of three (3) registration requirements, namely: 

a) RPA as an Aircraft

An RPA is eligible for registration (and to be issued a Certificate of Registration) if it is owned by or leased to a citizen or citizens of the Philippines or corporations or associations organized under the laws of the Philippines at least sixty per centum (60%) of whose capital is owned by Filipino citizens. A foreign-owned or registered RPA may be eligible for registration, if utilized by members of aero clubs organized for recreation, sport or the development of flying skills.

b) RPA Operator

For the RPA operator, a person, organization, or enterprise offering to engage in RPA operations or an “RPA Operator” shall submit the following documents with the Authority as pre-application requirements:

1. Letter of Intent

2. Duly accomplished Pre-Application Statement of Intent (PASI) Form for RPA operator certificate 

3. The application shall be accompanied by a copy of each of the applicant’s manuals relevant to the operation of RPAs

In addition, there is an eligibility requirement in relation to a petition to operate as a commercial RPA operator: 

1. Citizen of the Republic of the Philippines;

2. Domestic partnership, entities or corporations sixty percent (60%) of the capital of which is owned by a Filipino citizen. 

c) RPA Controller

For the RPA controller, an application for RPA Controller’s Certificate shall be made in writing, signed and sworn to by the applicant, stating among others the type of RPA to be controlled, experience in operating RPAs, and training courses undertaken.

  1. Are there any kind of taxes or fees regarding the licensing procedure?

Yes. A registration fee of Php36,400 shall be paid to obtain a certificate to operate (i.e. Operator Certificate), while each RPA to be registered shall have a registration fee of Php1,680.  

  1. Is a Certificate of Airworthiness mandatory to operate a UAS?

RPAs with a gross weight of 150 kilograms and above are required to obtain a Special Certificate of Airworthiness (“SCA”) or an Experimental Certificate (“EC”).

  1. Is access to the market for the provision of UAS operation services regulated and, if so, how?

Presently, the PCAR does not provide for such market access regulations on UAS operation services. 

  1. What requirements apply in the areas of financial strength and nationality of ownership regarding control of UAS?

Presently, the PCAR does not provide for any requirements as to financial strength to operate a UAS (although the minimum paid up capital of Php10 Million for agricultural spraying companies using fixed wing aircrafts may be imposed for RPA operators operating agricultural spraying). 

On the nationality of ownership, there is such a requirement for the RPA operator and the RPA itself as follows:

a) For the RPA operator, only citizens of the Republic of the Philippines and Domestic partnership, entities or corporations sixty (60%) percent of the capital of which is owned by Filipino citizens may be eligible to apply for Commercial RPA Operator Certificate.

b) For the RPA itself, as an aircraft, an RPA is eligible for registration (and to be issued a Certificate of Registration) if it is owned by or leased to a citizen or citizens of the Philippines or corporations or associations organized under the laws of the Philippines at least sixty per centum (60%) of whose capital is owned by Filipino citizens. A foreign-owned or registered RPA may be eligible for registration, if utilized by members of aero clubs organized for recreation, sport or the development of flying skills.

  1. Is drone transport permitted/regulated in your country?

Presently, the PCAR does not provide for regulations specific to drone transport.  There is likewise no law that prohibits drone transport. 

However, since transport may be categorized as for commercial use or at least, in furtherance of business, the RPA operator, its controller, and RPA itself must be registered and thus, must comply with the applicable PCAR regulations for commercial operations.

  1. Is there a specific Data & Privacy Protection regulation applicable to UAS operations?

Presently, the PCAR does not provide for specific Data & Privacy Protection regulation applicable to UAS operations. The applicable provisions of the general law, The Data Privacy Act of 2012, and its implementing rules and regulations, shall govern.

  1. Is there a specific control-link interference regulation applicable to UAS operations?

Presently, the PCAR does not provide for specific control-link interference regulation applicable to UAS operations. 

However, by definition of “Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS),” it includes the remotely piloted aircraft, its associated remote pilot stations, and the required command and control links and any other components as specified in the type design.

  1. Do specific rules regulate UAS manufacturers?

Presently, the PCAR does not provide for specific rules for the regulation of UAS manufacturers in general. 

  1. What requirements must a foreign UAS operator satisfy in order to operate to or from your country? 

An “operator” refers to the person or company that operates RPAs, while a “controller” refers to the equivalent of the pilot in aircrafts. As such, there is a distinction between “foreign operator” and a “foreign controller”. 

A “foreign operator” is not allowed in the Philippines. Only citizens of the Republic of the Philippines and Domestic partnership, entities or corporations sixty (60%) percent of the capital of which is owned by Filipino citizens may be eligible to apply for a Commercial RPA Operator Certificate

A “foreign controller” may be allowed in the Philippines. A person who currently holds a valid RPA Controller Certificate, License or Authorization issued by another Contracting State may apply for a validation of such license or authorization for use on RPAs registered with the Authority. The Authority will verify the authenticity of the license/authorization and ratings with the issue state. 

A validation certificate will be issued provided that the applicant presents to the Authority a current and valid foreign issued license/authorization and evidence of the following experience:

  1. Has completed an RPAs training course as conducted by the RPA manufacturer in the operation of the type of the RPA that he or she proposes to operate;
  2. Has at least five (5) hours experience in operating RPAs outside controlled airspace;
  3. Has passed RPAS Exam;
  4. Has passed the demonstration flight conducted by the authorized personnel of the Authority;
  1. Are fares or pricing of UAS operations regulated and, if so, how?

Presently, the PCAR does not provide for regulation as to fares or pricing of UAS operations although it is possible in the future.

  1. Must UAS be registered in any particular register?

Yes, the UAS or the RPA must register with the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines. 

  1. Who is entitled to be mentioned in the UAS register?

RPAS Operator Certificate shall include the name of the operator and the name of accountable person. 

For the RPA itself, as an aircraft, the operator is mentioned in the Certificate of Registration of the RPA, indicating if the operator is either the owner or a lessee. 

  1. Do requirements or limitations apply to the ownership of a UAS listed on your country’s register?

For the RPA itself, as an aircraft, an RPA is eligible for registration (and to be issued a Certificate of Registration) if it is owned by or leased to a citizen or citizens of the Philippines or corporations or associations organized under the laws of the Philippines at least sixty per centum (60%) of whose capital is owned by Filipino citizens. The Certificate of Registration of the RPA indicates if the operator is either the owner or a lessee of the RPA. For foreign owners of RPAs, ownership interest can be annotated on the Certificate of Registration.

  1. Do specific rules regulate the maintenance of UAS?

Presently, the PCAR does not provide for special rules that regulate the maintenance of UAS. 

  1. Which are the operational and distance limitations for an aerial work with a UAS? Is there any kind of certificate or permission to operate beyond those limitations?

Whether for commercial or non-commercial purposes, the general RPA operations and RPA  restricted operations involving distance limitation are as follows:

a) A person must not operate a RPA over a populous area at a height less than the height from which, if any of its components fails, it would be able to clear the area; 

b) 400 feet above ground level;

c) 10 kilometers radius from the Aerodrome Reference Point;

d) While the RPA is in flight, or is landing or taking off, it stays at least 30 meters away from anyone not directly associated with the operation of the RPA.

e) No person may operate an RPA in a controlled or prohibited airspace unless authorized by the Authority.

In addition, particularly for agricultural spraying, the substance sprayed should have the appropriate approval.

  1. Are UAS obliged to take-off from and / or land in specific facilities?

Presently, the PCAR does not provide for any specific utilities for the take-off and landing of a UAS as long as they do not operate within restricted areas and they comply with the distance limitations. 

  1. Which kind of airspaces are UAS permitted to operate with?

In addition to what has been provided under item no. 23, the following should be observed for non-commercial operations,:

a) An RPA Controller doing non-commercial operations may operate an RPA only within visual line of sight.

b) All RPA Controllers doing non-commercial operations are prohibited to operate an RPA at night unless authorized by the Authority.

c) No person or entity may conduct an RPA Flying Display or Air Show unless duly authorized by the Authority

  1. Which airspaces are restricted for UAS?

See answer on item no. 23.

  1. Which zones are UAS operations banned?

See answer on item no. 23. 

  1. Who provides air traffic control services for UAS in your country?

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines provides for air traffic control services for all aircrafts, including a UAS.

  1. Are there any special rules in respect of loss or damage to cargo?

Presently, the PCAR does not provide for special rules in respect of loss or damage to cargo. 

  1. Are there any special rules about the liability of UAS operators for surface damage?

Presently, the PCAR does not provide for special rules about the liability of UAS operators for surface damage.  However, RPAS operators should have RPA insurance or third party liability insurance. 

  1. Is there a mandatory accident and incident reporting system and, if so, how does it operate?

Presently, the PCAR does not provide for any specific accident and incident reporting system that are applicable to UAS or RPA only. Accident and incident reporting can fall under the general Philippine Civil Aviation Regulations on accident and incident reporting and investigation.

  1. What system and procedures are in place for the investigation of UAS accidents?

Presently, the PCAR does not provide for any specific system and procedure in place for the investigation of UAS. Accident and incident reporting can fall under the general Philippine Civil Aviation Regulations on accident and incident reporting and investigation.

  1. Are UAS operators obliged to have an insurance for their operations? If so, which are their main features?

Yes. There is a requirement to have a certificate of insurance covering the RPA, the RPA Controllers and third party liability. No person may operate an RPA for commercial operations unless the person holds an RPAS Operator Certificate, which must have an RPA insurance/Third Party Liability (TPL). 

  1. What is insured? The operator, the business or the aircraft?

A Certificate of Insurance covering the RPA to be used, RPA Controllers, and third party liability must be submitted before a certificate for commercial RPA operators will be issued. 

  1. Are there sector-specific rules regulating direct or indirect financial support to companies by the government or government-controlled agencies or companies (state aid) in the UAS sector? If not, do general state aid rules apply?

Presently, the PCAR does not provide for sector-specific rules regulating direct or indirect financial support to companies by the government or government-controlled agencies or companies (state aid) in the UAS sector.  The PCAR likewise does not provide for any general state aid rules.  

  1. What are the main principles of the stated aid rules applicable to the UAS sector?

Not applicable since the PCAR does not provide for any general or sector-specific state aid rules.  

  1. Are there exemptions from the state aid rules or situations in which they do not apply?

Not applicable since the PCAR does not provide for any general or sector-specific state aid rules.  

  1. Must clearance from the competition authorities be obtained before state aid may be granted?

Not applicable since the PCAR does not provide for any general or sector-specific state aid rules.  

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