Lokichar will Host Kenya’s First Drone Airport, set for February 2017 Completion



Drones have become popular world over,with a whole range of applications. Their usage has become part of the norm with the Military using them in warfare, wildlife services such as the KWS using them to tackle poaching and Internet companies like Amazon using Drones to deliver goods that consumers have purchased. They have been used for rescue activities, where a drone helped rescue two boys from drowning.

In Kenya, drones have become widely popular creating a community of enthusiasts ranging from photographers and even pilots. As such, the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority has been keen to create regulations for the same, which has seen the body engage different stakeholders to come up with the best way forward for the same.

Among the proposal in the regulations includes one that states owners of drones will be required to  register their devices with the KCAA where they will receive an RPAS operating certificate.  The authority will establish a registration and identification system for the same, where drones will be categorised based on based on their use and weight. Also in the regulation is one that states drones cannot be flown above 400 feet above ground level or at night, while owners who have to be over 18 years will require 3rd party insurance for their devices.

According to local paper Business Daily, Astral Aviation is set to open Kenya’s first drone airport that will target cargo operations in Lokichar by February 2017. The firm will operate the FlyOx drones, which are the largest civil drones on the market, with a payload of two tonnes, and can land at sea, making it ideal for transportation to oil and gas explorers. The drones can also travel for 1,200 kilometres which make them more ideal. The firm will also operate humanitarian cargo drones targeting NGOs as well as targeted the e-commerce industry with deliveries.

Early in the year, the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority said it has received more than 1,000 applications for drone licences which would allow them to establish transport businesses. According to the KCAA, the applications range from parties interested in running film and photography, relief services and other commercial purposes. Currently, the non-military use of drones is restricted hence the immense benefits to be accrued from the opening up of the industry.