The Unmanned Aircraft Pilot License (UAPL), which was drafted in July 2020, came into effect on February 1st, 2021. According to the CAAS (Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore), a drone pilot requires a UA license if he/she:
- Is flying a drone for commercial purposes or for purposes that are neither educational nor recreational.
- Is flying a drone that weighs over 7kg.
Let’s look at the UAPL requirements in detail:
UAPL Classes, Categories, and Ratings
The CAAS has defined UAPL into two classes and each class of UAPL has four categories of UA/drone. Therefore, a drone pilot can only fly a drone that corresponds to its class and category.
Categories of UA/Drones in each class
Class A UAPL
This class of UAPL allows a pilot to fly a drone of any category if the drone does not exceed a weight limit of 25kg. This drone pilot license will cover most drones ranging from small to medium.
To apply for Class A UAPL there are 3 prerequisites:
- The pilot must be at least 16 years old
- The pilot must pass the theory test administered by the CAAS with a minimum score of 75%. The test can be booked through this website.
- The pilot must pass a practical assessment conducted by an Authorized Flight Examiner (AFE) employed by a CAAS-approved UATO (UA Training and Assessment Organization)
CAAS recommends applicants go through a theory and practical training session before attempting the test. Applicants can undergo training at CAAS-approved UATOs which can be found here. The fee for undertaking a theory test or retest is $125.
Once the prerequisites have been completed, the pilot can submit an application for UA license. To submit an application:
- Log in or register your account on CAPELS (Civil Aviation Personnel Licensing System). Fill out the UAPL license application.
- Make sure to have your ID and contact address along with your theory test results.
The applicant will have to make a payment of $500 for the Class A UAPL. Based on your results of the practical assessment, limitations may be imposed on your license. You can have the limitation removed after going through a successful ‘removal of limitations’ test with a UATO.
Class B UAPL or Ratings
The Class B UAPL is also called ratings, is required for drones weighing over 25kg. An applicant cannot directly apply for a Class B UAPL. To apply for a Class B license, you must first hold a valid Class A license in the corresponding category as a prerequisite. For example, if you want a Class B UAPL for a 40kg hexacopter, you must first hold a valid Class A UAPL in the rotorcraft category.
The process of applying for a Class B UAPL is through UAPL Variation. UAPL Variation is a process for making category, class, or conditional amends in your license. Through this process an applicant can:
- Add or remove a category
- Add or remove a rating (Class B)
- Modify a UAPL condition
The variation application to add a rating (Class B) in your license must be submitted through the CAPELS platform. While submitting your application:
- Make sure you have all the documents to certify that you have fulfilled all the requirements in the corresponding category of Class A UAPL.
The applicant will have to make a payment of $200 to add a rating.
Application Processing Time: Upon successful submission of the documents and payment of the fee, CAAS will review the information and documents. CAAS may contact the applicant for further clarification if needed. The typical processing time for a UAPL application is 10 days. However, this may vary based on the completeness of the submitted information and documents.
Once approved, applicants will receive an email with instructions to view their digital UAPL through a mobile application.
To learn about the subjects for the theory and practical assessments, view the UAPL Advisory Circular.
All UAPL holders must pass a proficiency check conducted by an AFE from an approved UATO. The check has to be completed at least once every 4 years from the date on which the category was specified on the UAPL or from the date of expiry. In case a Class A UAPL holder fails to complete a proficiency check, their UAPL will be expired for the corresponding category.
Class B UAPL holders, in addition to a proficiency check, need to undergo refresher training every year. The refresher training can be undertaken at a UATO. Failure to complete either of these two tests will lead to the expiry of UAPL in the specified category. Additionally, Class B UAPL holders must present documents at the proficiency test to evidence their completion of the refresher training.
UA Basic Training
Pilots with drones weighing less than 7kg and if operated only for recreational or educational purposes, do not require a UAPL. However, pilots who operate their drone that weighs over 1.5kg but less than 7kg must undergo a one-time UA Basic Training. The training has to be conducted at a CAAS-approved UATO.
Users who undergo this training must at least be 16 years old. The UA Basic Training will provide users with relevant theoretical knowledge on how to operate their UA safely. The training will take about 2 hours to complete. Upon successful completion of the training, users will be issued with a UA Basic Training certificate.
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