St Helena Airport

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Using a drone on St Helena

Flying quadcopter drone fitted with a camera

Drones are becoming increasingly popular around the world for recreational and commercial purposes.  Using a drone on St Helena is permitted, but flights must be conducted safely and lawfully so that air traffic is kept safely separated from drone flights and that the privacy and safety of the general public is maintained.

There are a number of rules and regulations in respect of the use of drones on St Helena, and these are enshrined in the Air Navigation (Overseas Territories) Order 2013 and the Aerodrome Regulations.

In the Air Navigation (Overseas Territories) Order 2013, drones are referred to as SUAs (Small Unmanned Aircraft) or SUSAs (Small Unmanned Surveillance Aircraft).  SUSAs are drones which are fitted with a camera or other recording device.

Some rules will apply to all drones, regardless of their intended use or weight.  Others relate to whether the drone is being used for recreational or commercial purposes, it’s weight, and whether it is fitted with a camera or other recording device (an “SUSA”).

Permission to operate a drone on a commercial basis must be obtained from our regulator Air Safety Support International (ASSI) prior to operations commencing; please see below for further details.

What are the rules on flying a drone on St Helena?

The restrictions on when and where drone flights can be conducted vary depending upon the weight of the drone and where it is intended to be flown; but there are also some general restrictions which apply to all drone flights.

All drone flights must adhere to the following DRONE requirements:

  • Don’t fly near to or over St Helena Airport
  • Remember to fly no higher than 120 metres (4ooft) above ground level
  • Observe your drone at all times – it must always be in unaided visual range and fly at least 50 metres (165ft) from other persons, vehicles, vessels and other property.  Drones must not fly over or within built-up areas or crowds of more than 1000 people at a height of less than 150 metres (500ft)
  • Never fly your drone without adhering to the manufacturer’s instructions
  • Ensure you understand your legal responsibilities.

If you wish to fly an SUSA at less than the minimum limits defined in the DRONE requirements above, you must have written permission from ASSI prior to doing so.

Are there any other restrictions in place?

In addition to these DRONE requirements, further restrictions are placed on drones which weigh more than 7kg, particularly if you intend to fly in Controlled Traffic Region (CTR).

Diagram depicting St Helena's airspaceThe CTR covers the vast majority of the Island and therefore you will need permission from the Airport to fly a drone weighing more than 7kg in the CTR.  Please contact St Helena Airport in this instance – the Airport can then advise on whether flights are expected that day.

Click on the image above to enlarge.

I have a camera attached to my drone – what are the restrictions?

In addition to the DRONE requirements noted above, users of drones which have a camera or other recording device fitted must consider privacy issues when overflying other people, or property not owned by them.

Taking still or video images on St Helena is, with the exception of the area around the Airport, entirely acceptable.  However, you must consider privacy issues when you conduct your flights and note that you must not overfly crowds or built-up areas such as Jamestown without prior permission from ASSI.

I’m wish to sell or trade images to a commercial entity – what do I need to do?

If you are using your drone for commercial reasons – capturing stills or video images for gain or commercial enterprises – you must obtain permission from ASSI prior to conducting the flight/s.

To do this, you will need to complete an application form, send them an operations manual and risk assessment, and evidence of sufficient public liability insurance.  For more information, please see the Air Safety Support International (ASSI) website.

Do I need insurance?

If you are conducting flights on a commercial basis (known as “Aerial Work”) then you will need public liability insurance.

If you are using your drone for entirely recreational purposes, then insurance is not mandatory. However, if you intend to overfly other people and property which does not belong to you, it is strongly recommended that you purchase sufficient insurance to cover you in the event that damage or injury is caused to property or people by your drone.

Do you have any further information?

ASSI have issued a note on the restrictions of using a drone on St Helena which includes a handy flowchart (375Kb)

Who do I contact?

If you need to contact the Airport to request permission to fly your drone in the CTR, please contact the Head of Operations directly or telephone reception.  Contact details can be found on the Contacts page.

If you have any further questions on using a drone in St Helena, please contact the Airport Operations Section of the St Helena Government Airport Directorate.

Air Safety Support International (ASSI) in the UK can be contacted on +44 1293 214040 or via their website (http://www.airsafety.aero)

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