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Brazil: New Rules Prohibit the Use of Drones over Populated Areas

(May 10, 2017) On May 2, 2017, the National Civil Aviation Agency (Agência Nacional de Aviação Civil, ANAC) approved the Brazilian Regulation of Special Civil Aviation, which regulates the civil operation of remotely piloted aircraft, drones.  (Regulamento Brasileiro da Aviação Civil Especial, RBAC-E No. 94 (May 2, 2017), ANAC website.)

According to the Regulation, drones cannot be used at a distance of less than 30 horizontal meters (approximately 100 feet) of people without their consent, except in cases of public security or civil defense operations. (Id. 94.3(a)(3).)  The drones also cannot transport people, animals, or dangerous objects.  (Id. 94.103(a).)  The Superintendent of Air Navigability of the ANAC was quoted as saying that the restriction was adopted to guarantee the safety of the people. (Sabrina Craide, ANAC Proíbe Uso de Drones para Sobrevoar Areas com Aglomeração de Pessoas, AGÊNCIA BRASIL (May 2, 2017).)

The inspection of drone operations will be carried out by ANAC officials together with public security agencies. (Id.)  Whoever operates the equipment in a manner contrary to the Regulation may be subject to administrative, civil, and/ criminal sanctions.  (Id.)  All aircraft must be registered with the ANAC, regardless of whether their use is recreational or commercial.  (Id.)

The Regulation divides the drones into three categories according to their weight (RBAC-E No. 94 94.5(a)(1-3)):

  • drones weighing more than 150 kilograms (about 330 pounds) must undergo a certification process similar to that existing for manned aircraft and must be registered in the Brazilian Aeronautical Registry (Registro Aeronáutico Brasileiro, RAB).  Pilots must be over 18 years of age and must have a medical-aeronautical certificate, drone license, and authorization/operator’s license. (Id. 94. 9.)
  • drones weighing between 25 kilos (about 55 pounds) and 150 kilos must be in conformity with technical requirements prescribed for manufacturers. Operators must be at least 18 years old and have a medical-aeronautical certificate, drone license, and operator’s license. (Id.)
  • drones weighing between 250 grams (about 0.5 pounds) and 25 kilos need only be registered with the ANAC if operated up to 120 meters (about 394 feet)  above the ground. (Id. 94.19.) For equipment weighing under 250 grams there are no requirements in the Regulation.