If you got a drone for Christmas or were planning on launching a Chinese lantern for New Year’s Eve, aviation authorities warn there are guidelines that must be followed.
Holiday hazards, also including kites, fireworks and laser displays, are on the radar of the Civil Aviation Authority.
The CAA warns that anyone who wants to fly a drone within three miles of any of Cayman’s airports needs to apply for permission from the authority.
Similarly, anyone planning a New Year’s Eve or any other fireworks display within the same radius needs to coordinate with the authority.
Aviation officials have also warned that anyone who releases “sky lanterns” can be held liable for any damage caused by the release or resulting debris.
Drones have been one of the most popular Christmas gifts in Cayman over the past few years, prompting the authority to establish no-fly zones around the airports and prison.
“The interest in and operation of small unmanned aircraft has continued to increase significantly across the Cayman Islands, particularly in the congested areas of West Bay, Seven Mile Beach, George Town and in the vicinity of the airports,” according to the CAA.
“Such operations pose a high risk of an incident or accident involving an SUA [small unmanned aircraft] and a conventional aircraft.”
Drones pose a threat to aircraft taking off and landing, as well as police helicopters and the mosquito control planes, according to the authority.
In the U.K. last year, there were 81 incidents involving near misses between drones and planes, according to a BBC report.
A new bill in the U.K., planned for 2018, will ensure that owners of drones weighing more than 250 grams will need to register with aviation authorities and sit a test.
Aviation authorities in Cayman do not currently regulate the use of drones for leisure, but commercial operators require a license.
The CAA also warned that flying a kite higher than 100 feet above sea level, within three miles of the airports, or above 200 feet anywhere else, is illegal.
“This danger was exemplified during 2017 when a helicopter was badly damaged and a crew member injured as a result of it colliding with the control wire of a kite being flown well above the maximum permitted height,” the authority said in a statement.
The release of sky lanterns in community celebrations is also a concern for the aviation authorities. There are no regulations governing their release, but the CAA warns, “Any individual or organization planning to release sky lanterns should consider their personal liability in the event that damage to property or injury to humans or animals is caused either by the release of a sky lantern or the debris generated by them.”