Drones in Costa Rica: No Easy Flight

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    The Dirección General de Aviación Civil recently released their specifications for persons and companies wishing to fly drones in Costa Rica; it’s not cheap.

    According to Dirección General de Aviación Civil (DGAC), companies wishing to incorporate drones into their business must pay $1,874 to obtain a permit. While the permit allows said company to fly an unlimited number of drones, each pilot (whether affiliated with a company or flying solely recreationally) must also purchase a commercial pilot license at $94.

    While these fees may seem steep, they are still nothing in comparison to the near $16,000 individuals and companies alike will risk by flying without proper credentials.

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    Since drones can cause major problems in certain areas, DGAC is taking drones seriously. According to Consejo Técnico de Aviación Civil (Cetac)’s Federico Chavarria:

    [quote_center]“Initially, we saw [drones] as a toy, but we began to see many drones arriving, we started seeing drones in areas where flying aircraft were not allowed and we realized that we have to include drones in the regulation of airspace.”[/quote_center]

    Drone Regulations at a Glance

    In addition to the high price of operating a drone, DGAC has also implemented strict regulations as to how drones are used.

    • The maximum altitude of flying a drone is 120 meters so as to avoid collisions with larger planes.
    • Drones must remain at least 8 kilometers from any airport.
    • Drones may not come within 30 meters of any building our house.
    • Flying over mass activities requires prior authorization.

    Furthermore, certain areas have been deemed completely off-limits to drones:

    • La Reforma Prison
    • The Presidential House
    • El Ministerio de Seguridad Pública
    • Arenal Volcano
    • La Palma Passage
    • The Zurquí Tunnel
    • El Murciélago Police Training Center

    Chavarria admits:
    [quote_center]“In other countries there are regulations, but not as specific as in Costa Rica. This makes us leaders, not only on the Central American level, for much of the world…” [/quote_center]

    Only 19 similar directorates exist globally.

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