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Can You Fly Drones in Zambia?

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Zambia is a landlocked southern African country known for its safari zones and the varied wildlife that lives there.

Victoria Falls is in proximity, as is the vantage point of the Victoria Falls Bridge. It all sounds so fascinating, but:

Can you fly drones in Zambia?

The Zambia Civil Aviation Authority grants access to drones in Zambia, but commercial pilots must have a remote license through ZCAA. Pilots must also be registered, receive flight approval, and follow all ZCAA rules when operating their drones.

If you’ve planned a trip to Zambia soon and are interested in taking your drone along, this article is for you.

Ahead, we’ll discuss how to bring your drone into the country, licensing and registration, and the ZCAA’s laws in full.

» MORE: Can You Fly a Drone in Victoria Falls?

Let’s begin!

Bringing your drone to Zambia #

Before mapping out your drone flight plans, you must get your UAV to Zambia first. You can transport the unmanned aircraft by plane into South Africa.

We recommend packing your drone in a bag designed for carrying aircraft.

A loose backpack or duffel bag gives the drone too much room to move around. Even if you carefully wrap the drone in t-shirts or other soft materials, it can still incur damage on the plane.

You also shouldn’t try to stuff a drone into a tight-fitting suitcase or briefcase, as that can harm its components!

Purchase a bag that suits the airline’s criteria for checked luggage or a carry-on.

If you don’t have your drone nearby you on your flight to Zambia (or anywhere, really), you can’t guarantee it won’t get damaged or even stolen.

Zambia permits up to 15 electronic devices on its airlines.

You can also travel with lithium batteries rated for 100 watt-hours, keeping them in your carry-on or checked luggage.

Remove the batteries from your drone before you board the plane.

Can you fly drones in Zambia? #

The Zambia Civil Aviation Authority establishes the rules for drone flights in Zambia. According to ZCAA, you’re allowed to fly a drone in Zambia if you follow the country’s drone usage guidelines.

Drone pilots need three documents before launching: an RPAS Pilot’s License, a Certificate of Registration, and a Remote Pilot Aircraft Letter of Approval.

Let’s go over the three requirements now.

RPAS Pilot’s License #

The ZCAA issues Remote Pilot Licenses to qualifying commercial pilots in Zambia. This is not unlike how the FAA does the same in the United States.

You must be at least 18 years old to take the qualifying exam.

Further, you must have a sufficient understanding of English (one of the languages spoken in South Africa), being capable of writing, speaking, and comprehending it.

You must also send in a medical report. Obtaining the Remote Pilot License requires you to pass multiple tests, but once you do, you’re one step closer to flying a drone in Zambia.

Certificate of Registration #

Before applying for your license, you must have a Certificate of Registration in Zambia.

You can register your drone before your trip, and ideally, you should. This way, if it takes longer than anticipated for your registration to go through, you won’t have to sweat it.

Remote Pilot Aircraft Letter of Approval #

Finally, you must contact the ZCAA and request a Remote Pilot Aircraft Letter of Approval.

You will likely have to provide background information to ZCAA to earn the approval, including your name and contact information, your planned flight locations, how long you’ll be in Zambia, when you plan to fly, and how long you’ve flown drones.

You’ll also probably have to submit information on your UAV, including its manufacturer, make and model, weight, and other specs. You might need to include photos of the drone.

The Remote Pilot Aircraft Letter of Approval will detail where you can use your drone during your trip to Zambia.

Zambia drone laws to remember for your trip #

Even with ZCAA approval, you must still follow the civil aviation authority’s rules and guidelines when operating a drone.

Here is an overview of what you need to know.

You must have a fireproof license plate #

One of the most convincing reasons to register your drone in Zambia long before your trip is that you’ll have to produce a fireproof license plate for your drone once you arrive.

The plate must include your drone registration and your nationality.

The plate must have black letters and a white background.

Your drone must meet the weight requirement thresholds when using it privately #

If you employ your drone for private use, aka recreational flying, it cannot exceed 1.5 kilograms or 3.3 pounds. At that point, you can no longer fly it for hobby purposes.

If you own a collection of drones, bring your lightest UAV to Zambia so you can use it as normal.

You must bring safety equipment #

You’re required to have a fire extinguisher and first aid kit in your proximity when operating a drone in Zambia.

These items are for your safety and the safety of others around you.

You cannot operate a drone at night #

Plan your days in Zambia wisely, getting your fill of drone time then. Once the sun goes down and until it rises again, you’re prohibited from flying your UAV.

You cannot launch or land a drone on public roads #

You can use many surfaces in Zambia to launch or land a drone, but public roads are not one of them.

On that note, you shouldn’t launch or land a UAV from private property either.

You cannot use your drone in sensitive areas #

Zambia defines sensitive areas as significant national facilities, crime scenes, police stations, prisons, and/or nuclear power plants.

Map out these locations using a drone app and do your best to avoid them when enjoying your drone.

Remain 50 meters from buildings, public roads, and people #

You also must closely monitor your distance from buildings and public roads when operating your UAV. ZCAA does not permit pilots to fly any closer than 50 meters to these sites.

Further, you must stay 50 meters from people, whether individuals or those gathered in a crowd.

Do not fly within 10 kilometers of an airport #

Zambia drone law extends to airports to safeguard manned aircraft.

You cannot fly your drone within 10 kilometers or 6.2 miles of an airport in this country. A drone map should help you find airports throughout Zambia.

The full list of airports in the country is as follows:

  • Zambezi Airport (serving Zambezi)
  • Solwezi Airport (serving Solwezi)
  • Sesheke Airport (serving Sesheke)
  • Ngoma Airport (serving Ngoma)
  • Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport (serving Ndola)
  • Mongu Airport (serving Mongu)
  • Mfuwe Airport (serving Mfuwe)
  • Mbala Airport (serving Mbala)
  • Mansa Airport (serving Mansa)
  • Lusaka City Airport (serving Lusaka)
  • Kenneth Kaunda International Airport (serving Lusaka)
  • Lukulu Airport (serving Lukulu)
  • Luanshya Airport (serving Luanshya)
  • Harry Mwanga Nkumbula International Airport (serving Livingstone)
  • Southdowns Airport (serving Kitwe)
  • Kasama Airport (serving Kasama)
  • Kasaba Bay Airport (serving Kasaba Bay)
  • Kaoma Airport (serving Kaoma)
  • Kalabo Airport (serving Kalabo)
  • Milliken Airport (serving Kabwe)
  • Chipata Airport (serving Chipata)
  • Kasompe Airport (serving Chingola)

Do not exceed the recommended horizontal distance #

The ZCAA grants drone pilots the freedom to fly 500 meters horizontally, but no more than that. If you keep going, you’ll be beyond your visual line of sight.

You must have insurance #

You better have your drone insured before you fly it in Zambia! We couldn’t find any specific drone insurance totals required, so we recommend contacting the ZCAA and asking.

Do not fly over 120 meters #

The max rate of ascension your drone can gain in Zambia is 120 meters, approximately 393 feet.

Zambia, a South African country, allows drones according to ZCAA rules. Commercial pilots must obtain a Remote Pilot License to fly.

Pilots also require a Certificate of Registration and Remote Pilot Aircraft Letter of Approvalfrom ZCAA before taking off.

You should register your drone in Zambia before arrival to ensure you get all your I’s dotted and T’s crossed in time. Remember also to follow all the ZCAA’s drone laws. Have fun and safe travels!


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