Tuesday, 20 June 2023

  • AERIS and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGAC) join in calling on the population to take the appropriate care in this practice to avoid jeopardizing the safety of an airport.
  • Interest in these devices is evidenced by the fact that since the implementation of the Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) in 2017, 532 people are reported to have obtained their license to pilot them.

June, 2023. With the increasing popularity of drone use in Costa Rica, AERIS, the interested manager of Juan Santamaria International Airport (AIJS), and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGAC) joined forces in an information campaign for owners in search of avoiding any incidents at Costa Rica’s main air terminal.

“Part of being a responsible manager is to carry out preventive, informative and awareness-raising work; Although we are proud to guarantee that, largely due to the good work of our AERIS people, no incident has been reported with a drone that has had implications against operational safety, we are aware of the popularity that these devices have gained and that the flight of one near the air terminal can cause delays or cancellations of flights, even accidents if they are not attended with precision,” said Ricardo Hernandez, general director of AERIS.

And the fact is that since the Remote Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) regulations began in 2017, to date 532 people are reported to be licensed to pilot them.

Among the restrictions that these have to fly a drone in the vicinity of an airport, it stands out that it is forbidden to operate one within a radius of 8 km around an aerodrome, as well as it is not allowed to fly above 400 feet (120 meters) above ground level in uncontrolled airspace; this to avoid that it may constitute an obstacle to another aircraft approaching or leaving a landing area or runway.

To fly drones near an airport, exceptions can only be granted to companies certified by the DGAC, and a previous coordination must be made in which this Directorate analyzes each particular case before issuing the corresponding permit.

“The DGAC has published since 2015 the Aeronautical Circular AIC (CC 06 15) on Restrictions and Limitations for the Operation of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems, in which it provides accurate and updated information on the requirements, restricted areas and operating procedures to be followed with the aim of ensuring the safety of operations and reducing the risk of any interference with manned aircraft.  By facilitating access to the Aeronautical Circular, we seek to promote awareness and responsibility among all stakeholders,” shared Fernando Naranjo, Director General of Civil Aviation.

  • Other operating prohibitions to be considered by every drone holder are:
  • In a prohibited, restricted zone (published in Costa Rica’s AIP).
  • In controlled airspace
  • Close enough to another aircraft, so that it may constitute a collision hazard.
  • Agglomerated areas of buildings in cities, towns or inhabited places, outdoor gatherings of people in uncontrolled airspace.

In addition, aerial activities with unmanned aircraft may be conducted only by day and in visual meteorological conditions; the conduct of night flights is subject to the approval and conditions of the DGAC.

If these rules are breached or a drone is flown illegally, e.g. operated by someone without a license, they are exposed to a penalty of 1 to 20 minimum wages depending on the seriousness of the facts.

Standard procedure. To avoid any incidents at the terminal, AERIS conducts regular tours and inspections of the airport boundaries and nearby areas to identify any suspicious activity or presence of unauthorized drones.

Their job is to identify any unauthorized activity, including the presence of drones.

“As part of AERIS’ ongoing efforts to safeguard the safety of air operations at the terminal, we have an operational safety reporting system that is active and responsive to any notification of drone-related hazards or incidents. Both employees and external parties can use this system to report the presence of unauthorized drones or any other situation that represents a risk to aircraft,” explained Juan Belliard, Director of Operations at AERIS.

In a case where a drone is identified flying near AIJS, the AIJS control tower is immediately notified. The control tower, in turn, would notify aircraft in the airport’s area of influence about the situation.

Simultaneously, AERIS would coordinate internally with the Air Surveillance Service and the complementary security team to identify the location of the drone operator, in order to take the necessary measures to ensure air safety.

If it is determined that the presence of the drone represents an imminent danger, additional measures such as confiscation of the drone may be taken.

Subsequently, the DGAC is notified of what happened and documented through an Action Sheet, which is shared with the relevant authorities.

The most recent and unique case so far this year is from April, when a pilot reported a drone flying near an aircraft. A tour of the sector in question was coordinated with the Air Surveillance Service, but neither the operator nor the indicated equipment was identified.

For the effectiveness of these procedures, any individual can also participate. If you identify someone flying a drone near an airport, you can report it to local law enforcement and the Air Surveillance Service.

About AERIS Costa Rica

AERIS HOLDING COSTA RICA is a company of the CCR Group, which operates under the management model interested in the Juan Santamaría International Airport (AIJS), being in charge of its operation, maintenance, rehabilitation, construction, financing and promotion.

The company seeks to exceed the expectations of its stakeholder management contract in a transversal manner to sustainability, generating social, environmental and economic value. AERIS is committed to providing a “Pura Vida” travel experience for passengers transiting through the main gateway to the country and to generate positive impact to Costa Rica and its stakeholders.

AERIS draws on the experience of its parent companies: HAS Development Corporation and Grupo CCR of Brazil, the latter as the main shareholder and with stakes in the international airports of Quito Ecuador, Curacao and Belo Horizonte in Brazil.

It currently connects Costa Rica with 36 destinations around the world, through 25 international commercial airlines and two domestic airlines that operate in its facilities.