Contributors: Maria de Lourdes Marengo and Harry Aswani
An RPAS is considered as an aircraft in Panama. The Aeronautical Standard No. AAC/DSA/DG/01-16, which regulates all the aspects and the registration of RPAS in Panama, defines aircraft as a machine that can be sustained in the atmosphere from reactions of the air, and not by the reactions of the same against the earth’s surface.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Panama (“AAC”) regulates the operations of the RPAS in Panama, under the Aeronautical Standard No. AAC/DSA/DG/01-16 (the “Regulations”).
Yes, there is a distinction in the Regulations. The State RPAs are used for state or governmental operations, and the Private RPAs are used for civil or private operations.
Yes, there is a distinction between the recreational or leisure RPAS and the commercial ones. The main difference is that all the RPAS operators and members of their crew, who desire to carry out commercial operations in Panama, shall have an Operation Certificate issued by the AAC according to the local aeronautical regulations. This certificate will allow the operator to carry out commercial operations of such RPAS, in accordance with the conditions and limitations established within.
Yes, the distinction is made in the definitions’ section of the Regulations. In fact, the regulations mention in Section E, that the same applies to i) all the remote piloted aircraft systems (“RPAS”); (ii) all the RPAS of any weight, that were specifically designed for performing aerial work or cargo transportation; and (iii) all the RPAS’s operators and members of their crew, who desire to carry out commercial operations in Panama.
The safety of the RPAS operations in Panama will have the same importance as a manned piloted aircraft. To that end, any investigation of a drone accident or incident must be carried out by the AAC, their units, and other applicable departments.
The Regulation considers the RPAS’ pilot as responsible for the safe operation of the RPAS during his flight so we may consider the rule 1 RPA = 1 pilot as the applicable one.
All the RPAs which operate within the Panamanian territory, except the micro RPA, shall be registered at the AAC and need to obtain a registration number.
In sum, the registration process and requirements are as mentioned below:
It is very important to mention that while all RPA’s operators must have a valid Operation Certificate issued by the AAC, every person who desires to pilot any type of RPA, with the exception of the micro RPA, must obtain an RPA pilot license issued by the AAC and be trained in any matter related with the use of an RPA.
One of the requirements to obtain an RPA pilot license under local regulations is that the applicant has a valid aircraft pilot license or has been in possession of one in the past. The AAC is constantly monitoring all the drone’s operators and pilots to ensure that the quality and compliance with the requirements prescribed in the local regulations are maintained.
The registration of the RPAS cost US$5.00 dollars, except for the micro RPA which is free.
Except for the micro RPA, all the other types of RPAS require a certificate of airworthiness to operate in Panama.
Yes, all the RPAS’s operators who desire to carry out commercial operations in Panama must obtain an Operation Certificate issued by the AAC.
There are no restrictions regarding nationality or ownership for the operation of a RPAS in Panama.
Yes, the transportation of cargo by drones is permitted in Panama, and the same is regulated by the Regulations. However, the transportation of dangerous goods or illicit substances by drones is strictly prohibited.
The non-consensual photography or video recording of third parties or their property or belongings, interference, annoyance or observation, performed by a drone, which are not for sports or recreational purposes, is prohibited by local regulations.
Yes, Section P of the Regulations contains a reference to the communication and navigation equipment that the RPAs should have and the requirements for the operations of the RPAs within air controlled spaces.
No, there are no specific rules for the manufacturers within Panamanian regulations.
Any RPA operator that desires to operate an RPA in Panama commercially must obtain an Operation Certificate from the AAC. Nonetheless, the AAC will recognize as valid, the Operation Certificate of a foreign operator that has been issued by another contracting state of ICAO, under similar requirements to those required by the AAC, or under the base of a reciprocal agreement.
No, fares or pricing of UAS operations are not regulated in Panama.
The Regulations do not provide a guideline or requirements for the registration of UAS in Panama.
Please refer to the answer to question #19.
There are none.
There are no specific rules that regulate the maintenance of UAS.
The operation of any aircraft involving aerial work is regulated by the Book XVII of the Civil Aviation Regulations of Panama (“RACP”). To provide such services, the operator of such RPAS must obtain an Operation Certificate for aerial works with an RPA authorization. The conditions for such operations and all related terms, limitations, etc., will be provided in such Operation Certificate.
No, an RPA may operate in airspace which is not restricted or prohibited by local regulations.
The RPA may operate in any airspace as long as the AAC authorizes it.
Airspaces type A, C, D or E are restricted for RAPs and its operators unless they have authorization from the AAC.
RPAs cannot fly: (i) within a radius of 8 kilometers from any airport in the Panamanian territory; and (ii) over restricted, dangerous or prohibited areas, unless they have a special authorization or permission issued by the AAC, and the permit from the owner or authority in charge of the applicable area.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Panama (AAC).
There are no special rules within the Regulations which apply to the loss or damage to cargo.
The Regulations establishes that all the operators and RPA’s pilots of every RPA category, regardless of their use, will be responsible for the damages they may cause to third parties during their operations. Furthermore, as we mentioned above, all the operators that desire to use their RPAs for commercial purposes should obtain, before the beginning of their commercial activities, the Operation Certificate from the AAC, and being one of the requirements for its procurement, the obtaining of a third-party liability insurance policy.
There is no mandatory accident and incident reporting system required or specified within the Regulations or other rules in respect to RPAS.
The Regulations establishes that any investigation of a drone accident or incident must be carried out by the AAC, their units, and other applicable departments. However, there is no system or special procedures applicable to RPAS.
As we mentioned above, all the operators that wish to use their RPAs for commercial purposes should obtain, before the beginning of their commercial activities, the Operation Certificate from the AAC, and being one of the requirements for its procurement, the obtaining of a third-party liability insurance policy.
The Regulations requires that the operator and the pilot have a third-party liability insurance policy.
There are no sector-specific rules related to direct or indirect financial support to such companies in Panama, either from the government or the private sector. Furthermore, there are no general aid rules that apply in such cases.
Please refer to our answer to question 35.
There are no applicable general state aid rules that would apply.
There are no applicable general state aid rules that would apply.
Important: This publication should not be construed as legal advice on any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general information purposes only.
Download PDF Version: PANAMA DRONE LEGISLATION – PATTON MORENO ASVAT 2019
Given the very dynamic environment of this industry, it is to be expected that new legislation will be passed in the short term so as to ease the present restrictions. For this reason, the authors intend to periodically update its contents, although no guarantee can be given in this respect. Specific legal advice should always be sought from experienced local advisers, do not hesitate to contact us.