Drones fly in VN without licenses

Camera-equipped drones known as flycams have become increasingly popular, especially among Vietnamese photographers and filmmakers, but few people know they need permission from the Ministry of Defence to fly the devices.

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According to Thanh Niên (Youth) Newspaper, sales of flycam drones have been booming in stores in big cities and online shops.

The newspaper’s reporters visited shops in HCM City’s Gò Vấp District, District 10 and District 3 and were shown flycams with prices ranging from VNĐ2 million to 30 million (US$90 to 2,200).

According to sellers, most are young people, backpackers and photographers.

Flycam drones can take photos or film from an aerial view.

A flycam user who lives in Go Vap District told the paper that “using a flycam drone is not difficult, you just need to practice”.

“You can fly the drone anywhere you like but should not fly in sensitive areas [military or police controlled areas] because you will be fined and the drone will be seized,” he said.

Currently, 90 per cent of flycam drone users are unlicensed, he told the paper.

An owner of wedding studio admitted that his photographers usually used flycam drones to take wedding photos and videos.

“Most photo albums and videos clips were made in deserted areas such as mountains or beaches. So we have not asked for permission, and nobody asked us for our licence,” he said.

Permission is compulsory

The defence ministry regulated the use of flying cameras in Decree No. 36, issued in 2008, but the regulations are unfamiliar to local fans of the drones.

Colonel Nguyen Xuan Tien from the Ministry of Defence’s airforce division 370 said flycams were regulated strictly.

The defence ministry asked ministries, sectors and localities to strengthen their management of flycam drones to ensure airway traffic safety and social order.

Under the document, organisations and individuals must ask for permission from the ministry before using flycam drones, and can use the flycam drones only when they are licensed.

Organisations and individuals who want to import, export, design, produce and sell the equipment must also be licensed by the ministry.

The Department of Operations of the General Staff which is based in Hà Nội is the agency that grants licences for flycams.

Flycams fly to altitudes below 50m are managed by district-level military commands while those flying from 50m to 200m are controlled by district military commands, said the colonel.

Drones flying from 200m to 500m are watched by the airforce defence sectors of military zones in areas the drones are used in, while the airforce defence divisions of Air Defence and Air Force is in charge of managing flycams flying up to 500m.

People who want to use flycam drones in public should join licensed aviation clubs, said the colonel. 


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