Llewellyn Boyer-Cartwright, Now, a Bahamian aviation lawyer and Callenders partner, says that The Bahamas has a chance “to get out in front” with drone legislation. The prolific growth in the use of UAVs is leading to an increased need for legislation that would establish rules and regulations governing them in Bahamian air space. This comes at the heels of two recent close calls between unmanned aerial vehicles and passenger aircraft on the same day–one incident on the approach into New York’s busy LaGuardia airport, the other in California. These events drew international attention to the increasingly pressing issue about what to do with growing numbers of remotely-controlled drones in crowded airspace. Here are excerpts:
“Currently, there are no proscribed or published guidelines to assist commercial or recreational UAV operators,” said Boyer-Cartwright, who is concerned that it is only a matter of time before a close call becomes a call that was a little too close. “There have been 15 cases of seriously close calls reported by pilots over the past two years, according to a recent report in the Washington Post,” said Boyer-Cartwright. “That same report tracked 47 Class A military crashes in the U.S., 23 civilian crashes reported by public agencies and 236 serious accidents. Those are very startling figures. [. . .] That absence of legislation while the FAA continues to study how best to approach the problem of unmanned aerial vehicles whizzing around the skies presents an opportunity for The Bahamas, says Boyer-Cartwright.
“With the impending establishment of a Civil Aviation Authority, The Bahamas is well-positioned to formulate legislation, regulations and guidelines for the expanding unmanned aerial vehicle industry,” said the former commercial pilot. “Australia and Canada have UAV legislation. Italy’s regulations came into force just this past April 30. The US is still in the discussion stages and meantime, Amazon is asking permission to start delivering packages by UAVs and in the United Arab Emirates, they are experimenting with delivering government documents by drone. The timing is perfect for The Bahamas.”
Boyer-Cartwright, who has actively promoted the establishment of a Bahamas International Aircraft Registry and has been invited to speak at several aviation conferences in the past two years, also represents a local UAV photography company, Sky High Media. They, too, have called for regulation.
Lance Knowles and George Mosko, Jr, who own Sky High Media, have invested in highly sophisticated camera platforms mounted on multi-rotor UAVs. Commissioned by government agencies, security companies, major resorts, real estate developments, they are even called to provide work for movie sets. They’ve done shoots in Florida for Busch Gardens and Sea World and provided photographic evidence for oil spills. But while they are taking the business of unmanned photography to new heights, they worry that an unregulated atmosphere could lead to an explosion in the popularity of drones with hobbyists failing to recognize or honour rules of the airways.
[. . .] Boyer-Cartwright said drone regulation is one further example of how The Bahamas stands to benefit for an expanded aviation sector.