Thailand has imposed new regulations on drones. Source: Shutterstock

Why Thailand’s regulation on drones might be ‘good news’ for everyone

THAILAND’S new regulation on drones took effect on Jan 9 with authorities threatening up to five years’ jail time or a US$3,000 fine for those failing to register their devices.

The regulations cover nearly all forms of drone use from commercial and recreational to scientific, The Star reported (via the AFP).

“All types of drones except toy drones must be registered,” the National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Office was quoted as saying.

The new ruling comes amid the Kingdom’s peak tourism season as the number of tourists to the country swell above 35 million.

Balee says unregulated drones can be dangerous. Source: BVP

And while the new rules might be a bane for enthusiasts, tourists and the media, a professional drone operator sees there is a silver lining.

Jenny Balee, the Managing Director of www.bangkokvideoproductions.com, a film production company that has a dedicated aerial division, says this regulation is “good for everyone” owing to the enforcement of minimal Professional Drone Pilot & Safety standards.

“Unregulated drones can be dangerous. If a drone falls out of the sky, even a smaller drone, it can kill you, and I have seen drones fall out of the sky,” Balee told Tech Wire Asia.

“As one of the pioneers of professional drone services in Thailand for both film and industrial uses, our viewpoint is that the new laws are a great boost for the Professional Drone Service industry.”

Industry transformation

While the proliferation of drones in the retail market is seen as an upstart fad and trend, Balee says the regulation changes that status, allowing it to become a professional service industry that requires a “genuine commitment” by operators.

Balee says the regulation takes into consideration the public’s safety and privacy by limiting flight distances and keeping safe distances from buildings.

They also took into account the safe sharing of airspace with other aircraft with height limitations, national security concerns around airports and other sensitive areas with controlled fly-zones. Finally, the regulations, Balee says, makes Public Liability Insurance mandatory to allow compensation in the event of accidents.

“With a new professional industry status enhanced by regulations, potential general industry and government clients will look at the drone industry with more respect and interest in how drones can be utilized in their operations to increase efficiency and reduce costs,” Balee said.

“This, in turn, will provide Professional Drone Operators with more revenue opportunities.”

The flip side

Although there were benefits to the regulations, Balee says it has created some hurdles: like how it would be much more difficult to find inner-city takeoff and landing zones as permission was required from property owners, for both public land and private land.

The private owners, she said, were concerned that they might be held responsible in some way for letting drone operators use their land.

“Yet, here again, as the industry status becomes more professional, landowners will become more reassured and let Professional Drone operators use their land,” she said.