Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, says the Federal Government will come up with a “simple policy” to regulate the use of drones for private and commercial purposes.
He made this known on Thursday at the weekly State House Briefing in Aso Villa, Abuja.
According to him, a lack of regulation for drones could cause “disaster” within the civil aviation space. Sirika, however, did not give details on how and when the government or the concerned agency, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, would start the regulation of drone users.
Drones are unmanned aerial vehicles that are remotely piloted by aviators or by their owners on the ground.
Addressing journalists on Thursday, the minister said, “There are remotely piloted aircraft now and unmanned beings or aircraft as it is, or drones as you may call them.
“They are becoming to become a phenomenon or their own. Everybody is flying drones now. They are for good uses; you fly drones now to find pipeline vandalisation or breakage or carry out integrity tests, you fly drones now to many places to order pizza, to send birthday gifts and so on and so forth.
“Very soon, we will find our airspace dotted with all these craft and managing them alone will become such a huge challenge because they will be operating around within the airspace and somebody needs to control them.
“So, we thought that we should create a policy. The last time I spoke on drones, I gave an example of a friend of mine who was flying about 3 miles away from the (Aso) Villa. He was flying it at about 500ft above ground level and he was flying it towards the airport which is at the west side of the city and he was flying it about 65km per hour.
“These drones are now beginning to carry loads like 5kg, 10kg, or more. If this gentleman (friend of mine) is just flying this drone around and there is an inbound airplane or an airplane that is taking off, it could hit the airplane, get ingested in the engine and cause disaster. And don’t think it is not going to happen. Insha Allah (by God’s grace), it is not going to happen in Nigeria and in anywhere but we have seen examples of it in the UK (United Kingdom), we’ve seen British airways, we’ve seen also in the US (United States).
“So, we thought we should develop a policy for remotely piloted aircraft to have them organised and regulated.”
“We are policy-makers and we will make policies that will keep our country safe and secure.
“The policy is going to be very simple: just like you walk in and buy the drones and also be able to follow those rules and regulations even if you are an enthusiast,” he added.