As holiday celebrations with family and friends continue through the New Year, The Civil Aviation Authority of the Cayman Islands (CAACI) wishes to remind the general public of regulations necessary to ensure the safety of both the public and the aviation industry with regards to air safety when conducting firework displays; or releasing sky lanterns; or when using newly received Christmas gifts such as small unmanned aircraft (also known as drones or unmanned aerial vehicles); or when flying kites.
According to a statement issued by the CAACI, firework displays can vary from small domestic events to major commercial or ceremonial displays whilst light shows include all outdoor laser and searchlight displays. The associated risk posed by these events is increased when the activities take place in the vicinity of aerodromes or a location from which aircraft flight operations take place -and particularly during critical phases of the flight including approach, landing and take-off. Organisers planning firework and light displays during the holiday season and into the New Year are reminded of the protocols under Article 165 of the (AN[OT}O 2013) to coordinate proposed events taking place within 3 nautical mile of an airport or under the approach and departure paths with the CAACI in order to prevent potential threats to aircraft operations. Firework displays outside this area where the display height is expected to exceed 200ft above ground level must also be coordinated with the CAACI. Proposed laser and searchlight events within the same areas are similarly subject to coordination with and advance approval by the CAACI. Appropriate fees will be incurred for all displays, as per the Air Navigation (Overseas Territories) Order Fees Regulation 2010.
Sky lanterns are another form of in-sky displays the CAACI warns of. Sky lanterns form a momentous part of community and individual celebrations and depending on the number and size of the lanterns being released, they become a hazard to aircraft because once they are set free, lanterns cannot be controlled from the ground. In some cases, they can climb in the prevailing wind to a height of several thousands of feet. In addition, while the manufacturers or retailers may describe these products as “bio-degradable”, inferring that they burn themselves out and leave no trace behind. The reality is, according to documented incidents, sky lanterns are also known to blow back over the land causing fires, destroying property or injuring livestock. While the lanterns do pose a risk to aviation, there is not currently any legislation in place to regulate the release of sky lanterns; therefore, the need for caution and careful planning before a launch is vital to ensuring a safe release. The CAACI asks for any individual or organisation planning to release sky lanterns to consider their personal liability in the event damage to property or injury to humans or animals caused either by the release of a sky lantern or the debris generated by them.
Small unmanned aircraft (SUA) such as drones have not only become a crucial component of many photography or commercial businesses, but they have become a popular gift for recreational users. Flying a drone can be fun but as a drone pilot you are now another user of busy skies. It is important that you know how to fly your drone both safely and legally – most especially in the congested areas of West Bay, Seven Mile Beach, Smith’s Cove, George Town and in the vicinity of the airports. “No-fly” zones were introduced in February 2015 and it is illegal to fly an unmanned aircraft within 3 nautical miles of Owen Roberts International Airport (Grand Cayman), Charles Kirkconnell International Airport (Cayman Brac) and Edward Bodden Airfield (Little Cayman) without a specific written permission issued by the CAACI. In addition, a “no fly” zone has also been established around HM Prison Northward and it is illegal to fly an unmanned aircraft within 1 nautical mile of the Prison perimeter without the specific written permission of the Director of Prisons. Legislation covering the operation of SUA in Cayman Islands airspace can be found in Article 73 of the Air Navigation (Overseas Territories) Order 2013 (AN[OT}O 2013) as amended. Article 73 makes the SUA operator legally responsible for: The safe conduct of each flight; Avoiding collisions with other people and objects including aircraft; Maintaining unaided visual line of sight with the SUA at all times; Not flying within 150m of any congested areas, or over gatherings of people and; Not flying within 50m of a person, vehicle, vessel, building or structure. The use of an SUA for commercial purposes requires permission issued by the CAACI.
Any person who contravenes the provisions of the Article or flies an SUA within the ‘no fly” zones identified above, is guilty of an offence and may be liable, on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding CI$3,400.00.
In conclusion, the CAACI also warns that while rules pertaining to kite flying may not be generally known to the public, the public should heed the regulations pertaining to kite flying carefully to understand the potential hazards they pose to aviation in order to enjoy this recreational activity within the limits of the established law. Kite flying in the vicinity of airports is potentially dangerous to aircraft particularly during the taking-off and landing phases. Not only is there a risk that the body of the kite could damage the aircraft or be ingested by a jet engine with possibly catastrophic results, but the control lines, sometimes made of high tensile steel wire on performance aerobatic models, can pose a significant hazard to propeller driven aircraft. Article 71 of the (AN[OT}O 2013) effectively limits the height at which a kite can be flown to a maximum of 100ft above ground level (AGL) within a 3 nautical mile radius of an airport. Beyond this distance, a kite cannot be flown above 200ft AGL within the Cayman Islands. In order to protect the safety of aircraft, the operators of kites being flown above the heights specified are liable to be prosecuted and may have their equipment confiscated.