Industry group issues safe-use guidelines to fly drones


A group of companies and research institutions in Japan announced guidelines for the safe use of drones at a symposium held in Tokyo on Tuesday.

The first-ever safety guidelines for the unmanned aerial systems in the country, compiled by the Japan UAS Industrial Development Association, stipulate where and how to fly the aircraft. They also call on users to obtain the operator’s license to be introduced voluntarily by the association, get damage insurance coverage, and file reports with authorities if accidents happen.

After the symposium, Yasuhiro Senda, head of the association, told reporters that the group hopes to launch the voluntary license system by the end of the year with help from relevant parties, noting license applicants must pass both paper and skill tests.

The private-sector move comes as lawmakers are discussing a bill to ban drone flights over important facilities such as the prime minister’s office, the Diet Building and the Imperial Palace, in the wake of a crash of a drone on the roof of the most important office in the nation in April.

Besides, the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has adopted an amendment bill to the aviation law only to allow visibly monitored drone flights during daytime and ban them all the time over densely populated residential areas and around airports.

The guidelines also assume the enactment of these bills and the introduction of the state operator’s license and registration systems for companies to make, sell and operate drones.

The unmanned aircraft have increasingly been used in a variety of activities, including airborne photo and video shooting, building checks, security maintenance and goods delivery.

The association started drawing up the guidelines in March, as part of its effort to prevent accidents and problematic flights. In May, it opened an airport exclusively for drone flight training and tests in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture.