July 03, Colombo: Nineteen Drone Operators from around the country were awarded Letters of Authorization for Drone Surveillance Operation in Humanitarian Tasks at Headquarters, Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka (CAASL) in Katunayake on 26th June 2020.
From a total pool of 89 applicants, who had responded favorably to the Web Advertisement posted by CAASL which invited all potential Drone Operators to offer their services to strengthen the efforts of the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) primarily to combat the COVID-19 outbreak, they were among the 34 candidates short-listed after identifying them as capable for immediate deployment in Aerial Monitoring/Surveillance using Drone Technology in humanitarian tasks such as Remotely Monitoring for Dengue Prevention, Wildlife Protection, Human Elephant Conflicts, Disaster Management & Recovery , Archeological Sites protection etc.; by respective Authorities/Agencies of the Government of Sri Lanka, as the immediate need for Drones’ use against COVID-19 pandemic itself subsided with the great success achieved by Sri Lanka now in that aspect.
They all have been successful at the Evaluation Process of the CAASL which consisted of a written Knowledge Test, physical Inspection of the Airworthiness of Drone Equipment & Remote Control Panel, Drone flying Practical Skill Test, a Medical Examination and a Police Report.
The processing by the Evaluation Panel of CAASL , which comprised drone expert officials such as Air Commodore Dilshan Wasage, Director air intelligence SLAF, Prof. Rohan Munasinghe, UAV Lab-University of Moratuwa, DIG Thilak Dhanapala, Sri Lanka Police, Nuwan Indika, General manager Network Engineering of Sri Lanka Telecom-Mobitel and officials of CAASL led by Rohan Manukulasooriya, Deputy director General (Aeronautical Services Regulation), will be continued on the remaining applicants as well who are capable of higher level of Drone Technology uses such Payload Delivery, Aerial Spraying, Broadcasting, Thermal Detection etch; and also development of a Drone Monitoring System and also locally manufactured and/or upgraded/improvised Drones, with the hope of issuing Letters of authorization in those categories as well for those who become successful at the evaluation.
This Letter of authorization awarded to them will make them deemed as having obtained the prior Approval of the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for a period of one (01) year, thereby not requiring them to obtain DGCA’s approval on a case-by-case basis when deployed for Aerial surveillance by a respective governmental Authority/Agency.
However such operations continue to require the approval of the Ministry of Defense through the Office of Chief of Defense Staff (OCDS) and any other such authorities in addition to a notification to the local Police Station of the area of operation.
In recognition to their coming forward to a national cause during the hour of need at the ,peak of COVID-19 outbreak, the CAASL has decided to exempt the processing fee applicable in respect of the Authorization issued by CAASL.
The event was graced by CAASL Chairman Upul Dharmadasa, who highlighted about his intention and vision to expand the present number of 750 Drones registered under CAASL to 10,000 drones within the next 2 years in order to build a capable Drone Industry in Sri Lanka.
Vice Chairman of CAASL Amith Wijesooriya enlightened the gathering with the capability of Drones being used for a broader cross-section of uses in Agriculture, Industries etch; to contribute to the national economy, while Capt. Themiya Abeywickrama-DGCA-CEO-CAASL stressed the importance of conforming with the Rules and Regulations which CAASL is committed to make more user-friendly and understandable to Drone operators’ community with appropriate amendments as appropriate.
Air Commodore Dilshan Wasage, Director-Intelligence-Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) called-upon the recipients of Letters of Authorization to ensure not to breach or compromise national security when operating drones, which might compel the Defense Authorities to re-impose the ban on drones or stringent restriction which is not in the best interest of the Drone as a growing industry which needs to be allowed and grow even further.
The recipients of the Letters of authorization for Drone Surveillance Operations in Humanitarian Tasks were delighted on this historic achievement and assured their fullest cooperation to all endeavors of CAASL & GOSL in the field of Drones in particular and also in Aviation Industry as a whole.