Contributor: Eyal Doron, Hugh Kowarsky and Oded Kramer of S Howowitz & Co
1. Are UAS considered as “aircraft” in your country?
According to Israeli law , certain UAS are considered “aircraft” while others are not – depending on their use and size.
The Air Navigation Law, 2011 (the “Air Navigation Law”), distinguishes between two types of airspace users: “aircraft” and “gliders” (“gliders” is not a precise or comprehensive translation of the Hebrew term appearing in the Air Navigation Law”, but is used for convenience in the responses to this questionnaire).
“Aircraft” is defined in Section 1 of the Air Navigation Law as “a device that can be supported in the atmosphere by air reactions which are not air reactions in contact with the earth, excluding gliders and other devices determined by the Minister”. “Gliders” are defined in Section 1 of the Air Navigation Law as:
(2) Powered Hang-Glider;
(4) Powered Paraglider;
(5) Powered Parachute;
(6) Unmanned radio-controlled model airplane…which is used for recreational or sports purposes;
(7) Such device as the Minister [of Transportation] shall specify pursuant to Section 93(c) of the Law.
The only device included in the definition of “gliders” in the Air Navigation Law which may perhaps be considered a UAS (or a UAV) is that specified in paragraph (6) and (7) of the definition,
Pursuant to the Air Navigation Regulations (Operation of Aircraft and Flight Rules) 1981, promulgated by the Minister of Transportation (“the Operation Regulations”), “aircraft” is defined as not including (1) an unmanned device which is radio-controlled, which weighs less than 300 grams (whether powered by an engine or not); and (2) an unmanned device which is not radio-controlled, whether it is powered by an engine or not.
Hence, a UAS which is used for recreational or sports purposes will not be considered an “aircraft” (but rather a “glider”) under the said Law and Regulations. However, a UAS which is used for commercial or general (including professional) purposes will be considered an “aircraft”, with the exceptions set forth in the Operation Regulations.
Please note that all names of, and citations from the Israeli law or regulations are unofficial translations into English from the original Hebrew; in the case of any discrepancy in construing the applicable law or regulation, the Hebrew version shall prevail.
See: the explanation on the CAAI website under the heading “What is a multi-blade (drone)?”: Https://www.gov.il/he/Departments/faq/faq-uav (in Hebrew).
Due to the increasing use of UAS, and given the understanding that the existing legal framework does not sufficiently cater for them, the Israeli Civil Aviation Authority (the “CAAI”) published draft regulations specifically addressing the public use of UAS. Having regard to the simplicity of the US Federal Aviation Administration regulations covering this topic and the experience gained from their implementation since their introduction in the US in 2016, the draft regulations prepared by the CAAI are largely based on the US model, rather than the corresponding European form. Within this context, the CAAI published two separate sets of regulations – one covering the operation of small unmanned aircraft (Small Drones) , and the other covering the operation of radio-controlled model airplanes (RCMAs).
The Draft Regulations (Small Drones) are meant to exclude UAS which fall under the definition of a “small drone” according to the Draft Regulations (see: footnote 5) from the scope of many of the current regulations (including the Operation Regulations), and some of the sections of the Air Navigation Law, which apply to “aircraft”. However, since these regulations have yet to enter into force, the answers to some of the following questions will refer both the current legal situation and the legal situation under the Draft Regulations.
2. Which bodies regulate the remotely-piloted and/or unmanned aircraft operations in your country, under what basic laws?
The main body responsible for regulating aircraft and gliders, including UAS (whether treated as aircraft or gliders), is the CAAI. The authority of the CAAI is anchored in the Civil Aviation Authority Law, 2005 (the “CAAI Law”). According to Section 4 of the CAAI Law, the CAAI is responsible, inter alia, for:
• Issuing licences, permits and certificates in the field of civil aviation, according to the Israeli aviation laws, inter alia, for aircraft and aviation equipment.
• Monitoring the civil aviation sector, including maintaining an adequate level of air safety for Israeli aircraft and aircraft in the Israeli airspace.
• Collecting and distributing international and domestic aviation information and directives regarding the safety, regularity and efficiency of air transport, in accordance with the Israeli aviation laws.
The last draft was published in October 2020.
C.F.R §107 – SMALL UNMANNED AIRCRAFT 14.
The Draft Air Navigation Regulations (Operation of a Small Drone), 2020 (the “Draft Regulations (Small Drones)”); the term “small drone” is defined in the Draft Regulations (Small Drones) as an aircraft operated without the possibility of direct human intervention from or on the aircraft, whose mass on take-off, including anything borne by it and anything attached to it, ranges between 250 grams and 25 kilograms.
The Draft Air Navigation Regulations (Operation of a Radio-Controlled Model Airplane), 2020 (the “Draft Regulations (RCMA)”); the term “radio-controlled model airplane” is defined in the Draft Regulations (RCMA) as a motorized or non-motorized device, which is used for recreational or sports purposes and whose mass on take-off, including anything borne by it and anything attached to it ranges between 250 grams and 150 kilograms.
Israeli aviation laws include the Air Navigation Law, the Aviation Services Licensing Law, 1963 and any other law that prescribes rules in civil aviation matters for which the Minister of Transportation bears responsibility for its implementation, as well as regulations enacted thereunder (Sec. 2 of the CAAI Law).
The principal piece of legislation regulating the operation of aircraft and gliders including UAS, is the Air Navigation Law. In addition, regulations enacted by virtue of the Air Navigation Law govern various operational aspects. The core regulations in this context are the Operation Regulations, which establish specific rules for the operation of aircraft and gliders.
A detailed list of all the Israeli aviation laws and regulations can be found at the following link: https://www.gov.il/BlobFolder/guide/aip-israel/en/aip-eng_GEN-1-6.pdf
3. Is there a distinction between “State UAS” and “Private UAS”?
Yes, the operation of private UAS is regulated within the framework of the Air Navigation Law and regulations enacted thereunder. On the other hand, the Air Navigation Law and associated regulations do not apply to State-owned UAS, operated by either of Israel’s security bodies (the National Intelligence Agency (Mossad) and the Israel Security Agency (Shin Beit)). Instead, the security body itself is responsible for the airworthiness of its UAS and the professional knowledge and proficiency of the UAS operator. Nonetheless, several provisions in the Air Navigation Law, particularly those regarding Israel’s flight information region (FIR) and the fees payable for services rendered by the CAAI, do apply to State-owned UAS. Further, the Air Navigation Law and the Air Navigation Regulations do not apply to police aircraft and army aircraft.
4. Is there any distinction between public, leisure and commercial UAS? What regulations are provided for UAS operations in each group?
Yes, as indicated in the response to question 1 above, the question as to whether a certain UAS would be considered an “aircraft” depends largely on whether its operation is for recreational or sports purposes or for commercial or general ones. According to the Operation Regulations, a UAS used solely for recreational or sports purposes will not be considered an aircraft, and the regulations that apply to RCMAs (rather than those that apply to aircraft) will apply. On the other hand, a UAS used for commercial or general purposes will be considered an aircraft (unless it weighs less than 300 grams or is not radio-controlled).
5. Is there a distinction, in terms of regulation, between completely autonomous UAS and remotely-piloted UAS?
Israeli law and regulations do not expressly make provision for completely autonomous UAS. However, it may be argued that a completely autonomous UAS would not be construed as “aircraft” as defined in the Operation Regulations which, as noted above, excludes from the definition of “aircraft” devices which are not radio-controlled. On the other hand, since the Operation Regulations were enacted in 1981, long before autonomous UAS became commercially available, it might be difficult to argue that the legislator had intended to exclude them.
Regulation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (“UAS”) Operations - Safety
6. How are UAS operations regulated in terms of safety?
Safety rules relating to the operation of aircraft and gliders, including UAS, are currently stipulated in the Air Navigation Law and regulations enacted thereunder. The Air Navigation Law, which was enacted in 2011, replaced the previous Air Navigation Law that was first enacted in 1927. The underlying basis for the professional provisions set forth in the Air Navigation Law, including those regulating the design and manufacture of aircraft, airworthiness, the inspection of aircraft, the operation of aircraft, the training of aircraft workers, aircraft communications, air traffic control and the operation and maintenance of airports, stems largely from uniform international standards, as established by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
As noted in the response to question 1 above, the Air Navigation Law distinguishes between two types of airspace users: “aircraft” and “gliders” (which include RCMAs). As noted above, with some exceptions, a UAS that is used for commercial or general purposes will be considered an “aircraft”, while a UAS that is used for recreational or sports purposes, will be considered a “glider.
The Air Navigation Law and current regulations do not provide separate safety rules for the operation of UAS that would be construed as “aircraft” under such Law and regulations, so that the safety rules applicable to other aircraft (as stipulated, inter alia, in Chapter C of the Air Navigation Law and in the Operation Regulations) will apply equally to such UAS. Some further safety rules regarding the operation of UAS can be found in the CAAI Aeronautical Information Publications (AIP). On the other hand, a series of safety rules for the operation of RCMAs, are laid down in Section 180G of the Operation Regulations (see: response to question 23 below). Moreover, additional safety rules for the operation of gliders are laid down in Chapter D of the Air Navigation Law.
7. Is the applicable regulation considering the rule of 1 UAS = 1 pilot?
AIP B-9, which is published by the CAAI and includes specific rules for the operation of UAS, prohibits the simultaneous operation of more than one UAS by the same operator from the same remote pilot station, without permission from the Director of the CAAI. In addition, according to Section 19 of the Draft Regulations (Small Drones) and Section 18 of the Draft Regulations (RCMA), the simultaneous operation of more than one drone or model aircraft is forbidden. This rule applies both to the UAS pilot, “watcher/observer” and the “flight-commander” – a person appointed by the owner of the UAS to serve as the direct responsible and professional authority regarding the operation of the UAS.
Regulation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems ("UAS") Operations - Licensing
8. What procedures are there to obtain licenses or the rights to operate UAS?
Permits for commercial or general operation (other than sports or leisure):
There are three types of permits for the commercial or general operation of UAS:
• an indoor operation permit – a permit for operating the UAS from an operating station;
• an outdoor operation permit – a permit enabling outdoor operation of the UAS by maintaining eye contact with it (including a permit to take off and land the UAS); and
• a visual line of sight (VLOS) operation permit – a permit for operating the UAS within eye contact only (without a permit to take off and land the UAS).
In order to obtain an operation permit, the pilot must prove possession of professional knowledge, experience and proficiency, based on a flight log and must also successfully pass a written exam in subjects such as meteorology, air navigation, aviation laws, etc. For indoor and outdoor permits, a CAAI practical exam will also need to be taken and passed. In addition, a UAS pilot must be registered with a certified air operator.
The Draft Regulations (Small Drones), provide that the general operation of UAS (i.e., non-commercial operation) will be permitted even without an operation permit, provided the operator is under the direct supervision of a flight-commander, who can immediately take control of the UAS, if need be. The Draft Regulations also condition grant of the permit to an applicant who is an Israeli citizen or resident.
Permit for leisure or sports operation of a RCMA:
According to Section 163(d) of the Operation Regulations, the operation of a RCMA is permitted only within the framework of an operating permit and in accordance with the rules set forth in such Regulations. In other words, in order to operate a RCMA, it is mandatory to have an operating permit or to operate “within the framework” of such permit (i.e., by being affiliated to an entity holding a permit and that allowing others to operate under its permit). In practice, however, only a handful of RCMA operators do so under an operating permit. It seems that the requirement for issuance of a permit may be attributed to the fact that the Operation Regulations were enacted about four decades ago, when the operation of RCMAs was very expensive, required much knowledge, skill and experience, and was therefore carried out by only a small group of people. The Operation Regulations have not been updated since then, nor have they undergone any adjustment or re-examination in light of developments in the field of RCMAs, or UAS in general, in recent years. Accordingly, the Draft Regulations (RCMA) include provisions requiring that a permit be obtained for the operation of a RCMA, which will be made available to “pilots” over the age of 12 years and subject to applicants passing a written exam.
9. Are there any kind of taxes or fees regarding the licensing procedure?
Regarding the issuance of a UAS operating permit – a fee is payable for undergoing both the written test (in the amount of NIS 360 (about USD 115 in December 2021) and the practical exam (in the amount of NIS 2,370 (about USD 750 in December 2021). An additional fee will be payable for issuance of a certificate of health compliance. Pilots wishing to renew an existing permit, or seeking to expand the scope of their current permit (for example, from a VLOS permit to an outdoor permit), will need to pay a reduced fee.
10. Is a Certificate of Airworthiness mandatory to operate a UAS?
Pursuant to Section 63 of the Air Navigation Law, the operation of an aircraft is subject to the issuance of a Certificate of Airworthiness issued by the Director of the CAAI or by a CAAI employee authorized by the Director to do so. Therefore, it is mandatory to issue a Certificate of Airworthiness to operate a UAS that is considered an “aircraft” under the Air Navigation Law.
Pursuant to Section 33(a)(2) of the Draft Regulations (Small Drones), small drones are excluded from the application of Section 63 of the Air Navigation Law, i.e., their operation is not conditioned on the issuance of a Certificate of Airworthiness.
11. Is access to the market for the provision of UAS operation services regulated and, if so, how?
Pursuant to Sections 17 and 18 of the Air Navigation Law, the commercial operation of an aircraft (viz., for business purposes, with the central aim of transporting passengers or goods or rendering a service), including the commercial operation of UAS which are construed as “aircraft” under the Air Navigation Law, is subject to obtaining of an Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC). However, pursuant to Section 33(c) of the Draft Regulations (Small Drones), the commercial operation of a small drone, does not require an AOC, and its registered owner, will be considered as the air operator.
Below are the main prerequisites for the issuance of an AOC under the Air Navigation Law:
1. The applicant must be either of the following:
a. An individual who is a permanent resident of the State of Israel and does not have a principal place of business outside Israel, or is an Israeli citizen who has a principal place of business in Israel.
b. A corporation incorporated in Israel, which has no principal place of business outside Israel and is controlled by an Israeli citizen or a permanent resident of Israel or a corporation controlled by any other person pursuant to the provisions of an international aviation convention to which Israel is a party.
2. The applicant must possess a commercial operating licence in accordance with the provisions of the Aviation Services Licensing Law, 1963.
3. The applicant must prove that it possesses the appropriate aircraft, facilities and equipment necessary for providing the UAS operation services.
12. What requirements apply in the areas of financial strength and nationality of ownership regarding control of UAS?
As detailed in the response to question 11 above, one of the prerequisites for obtaining an AOC for the commercial operation of an aircraft, including UAS that are construed as “aircraft” under the Air Navigation Law, is that the applicant must be an Israeli citizen or permanent resident, or an Israeli corporation.
In addition, in accordance with Section 2 of the Air Navigation Regulations (Registration and Marking of Aircraft), 1973 (the “Registration Regulations”), the operation of an aircraft within the airspace of the State of Israel is subject to the issuance of a certificate of registration of the aircraft on the Israeli Aircraft Register (the “Aircraft Register”). A prerequisite for registering an aircraft on the Aircraft Register, is that the aircraft be owned by an Israeli citizen or permanent resident; or owned by a corporation registered in Israel or established according to Israeli law, where at least two-thirds of its directors are Israeli citizens or permanent residents and the aircraft is not registered in another country.
In addition, the operation of an aircraft by aircraft dealers, is subject to the issuance of a “dealer’s registration certificate”, which is likewise subject to the nationality requirements elaborated above; another requirement is that the dealer will have its place of business in Israel. However, the term “aircraft” as defined in the Registration Regulations does not include “miniature aircraft (such as model airplanes or toys)”.
According to Section 33(a) of the Draft Regulations (Small Drones) the Registration Regulations shall not apply on Small Drones, however, pursuant to Section 8 of the Draft Regulations (Small Drones), a small drone shall be eligible for registration only if it is owned by an Israeli citizen or permanent resident, or owned by a corporation incorporated in Israel and is controlled by an Israeli citizen or permanent resident, and provided that it does not bear the “nationality or registration marks granted by a foreign country”. It has not been suggested in the Draft Regulations (RCMA) that similar requirements be imposed in relation to RCMAs.
As for requirements relating to financial strength of the air operator, as mentioned in response to question 11 above, the issuance of an AOC, is subject to the possession of a commercial operating licence (“COL”). According to Section 2 of the Aviation Services Licensing Regulations, 1963, an application for a COL must include, inter alia, proof that the applicant has sufficient capital to finance its operation.
13. Is drone transport permitted / regulated in your country?
No specific mention is made in the Israeli law and regulations either permitting or regulating UAS transport. However, as noted in the response to question 11 above, the Air Navigation Law stipulates that the operation of aircraft (including UAS that are construed as “aircraft” under the said Law) for commercial purposes (which includes the transportation of passengers or goods), is subject to the issuance of an AOC. It should be reminded that pursuant to Section 33(c) of the Draft Regulations (Small Drones), the commercial operation of a small drone, does not require an AOC.
Regulation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems ("UAS") - Operations - Others
14. Is there a specific Data & Privacy Protection regulation applicable to UAS operations?
There is no sector-specific data and privacy protection regulation applicable to UAS operations. However, in March 2020, the Israeli Privacy Protection Authority (a unit within the Ministry of Justice tasked with regulating, supervising and enforcing the provisions of the Protection of Privacy Law, 1981) (respectively, the “PPA” and the “PPL”)), published a document setting out recommendations regarding the privacy aspects of operating UAS for the purpose of collecting and processing personal information.
According to the PPA, UAS pose a significant potential threat to privacy, given that they are devices that can be easily installed with technology that can make them become effective and intrusive tracking means, capable of collecting, storing and transmitting sensitive information over time.
According to the PPA, the provisions of the PPL apply to the collection of personal information using UAS. Nevertheless, the PPA believes that traditional information protection laws should be adapted to address current technological-related developments and problems posed by UAS, such as intrusive monitoring from the air.
According to the PPA, the operation of UAS whose sole purpose is to photograph or collect other data about an identified or identifiable person, which data is then captured by sensors installed on the UAS and stored in computerized digital format, would be deemed to create a “database”, within the meaning of the term in Section 7 of the PPL, to which various rules apply, including the obligation to register the database with the Registrar of Databases. It should be noted that the definition of “database” in the PPL excludes the collection of data intended for personal use. However, the PPA believes that an amendment to the definition of “database” should be considered, so that the provisions of the PPL regulating the operation of databases, will apply also to individuals who operate UAS for the purpose of collecting large amounts of sensitive information about others, even if not for commercial purposes.
15. Is there a specific control-link interference regulation applicable to UAS operations?
According to Section 7A of the Wireless Telegraph Ordinance [New Version], 1972 (“the Telegraph Ordinance”), the operation of a wireless device, without a license, in the field of frequencies intended for connection with aircraft or for the operation of an aviation assistive device or in other circumstances that could cause a disruption or interference to contact with an aircraft or the operation of an aviation assistive device, is a criminal offence, the punishment for which is up to 5 years of imprisonment, or up to 3 years if the offence was done in negligence.
According to Section 12 of the Telegraph Ordinance, a police officer may enter a place and conduct a search, without a judge’s warrant, if he has reason to believe, on the basis of a complaint from an inspector, that a wireless device is activated, or has recently been activated, in that place, that may cause disruption of interference to contact with an aircraft or the operation of an aviation assistive device or to endanger human life.
16. Do specific rules regulate UAS manufacturers?
Pursuant to Section 52 of the Air Navigation Law, the manufacturing of aircraft, aviation equipment or aircraft parts (including UAS that are construed as “aircraft” under the said Law) for the purpose of selling them, is subject to the procurement of a manufacturing licence, and the manufacturing activity may only be performed in accordance with the express terms and conditions of the licence. The specific prerequisites for obtaining a manufacturing licence are set forth in Section 53 of the Air Navigation Law.
In addition, pursuant to the Registration Regulations, an Israeli business that engages in the sale or manufacture of aircraft must likewise possess a “dealer’s registration certificate”, in order to operate its aircraft in Israel (see: response to question 11 above).
However, according to Sections 33(a) and 33(d) to the Draft Regulations (Small Drones), the Registration Regulations and Section 52 of the Air Navigation Law shall not apply on small drones.
17. What requirements must a foreign UAS operator satisfy in order to operate to or from your country?
Section 42A of the Operation Regulations expressly prohibits the operation of foreign aircraft in Israel on a permanent basis (“permanent” meaning a stay in Israel for more than 45 days out in a period spanning 270 days). Operation of an aircraft which stays in Israel beyond such stated period will not be permitted for another period until 6 months shall have passed from the date it departs Israel.
In addition, the operation of a foreign aircraft shall be performed only by its registered owner or by a person hired by the owner to fly it for the entire period of the foreign aircraft’s stay in Israel. It should be noted in this context, that Section 42A does not apply, inter alia, to aircraft operated by a certified air operator (for more information regarding AOCs, see: response to question 11 above).
Section 42 of the Operation Regulations sets forth specific technical requirements regarding the operation of foreign aircraft in Israel, including technical equipment that must be carried by or installed in the foreign aircraft.
18. Are fares or pricing of UAS operations regulated and, if so, how?
No, fares and pricing of UAS operations are currently not regulated under Israeli law.
The Aircraft (“UAS”)
19. Must UAS be registered in any particular register?
Pursuant to Section 56 of the Air Navigation Law, the operation of an aircraft (which as explained above include certain UAS) in Israel is subject to registration in the Aircraft Register and the issuance of a registration certificate. The Aircraft Register can be inspected by the public (subject to payment of a fee). The information contained in the Aircraft Register with regard to a specific aircraft would generally include: the name of its owner; details of any liens and foreclosures imposed on it; its nationality; the name of its manufacturer; its type and serial number.
An aircraft which is not listed in the Aircraft Register is not subject to Israeli sovereignty. Following submission of an application for registration, a temporary permit may be obtained to operate the aircraft, until the registration process is either completed or discontinued, in either case, within a limited period of 30 days.
However, an aircraft operated by an aircraft dealer, will not be subject to registration in the Aircraft Register. Instead, the dealer will need to apply for the issuance of a “dealer’s registration certificate” (see: response to question 11 above).
Both sets of the Draft Regulations impose a registration requirement both for small drones and RCMAs, as a condition for their operation.
20. Who is entitled to be mentioned in the UAS register?
See: response to question 21 below
21. Do requirements or limitations apply to the ownership of a UAS listed on your country’s register?
Pursuant to Section 3 of the Registration Regulations, an aircraft shall be eligible for registration provided that the following cumulative conditions are met:
a. It is owned by an Israeli citizen or a permanent resident, or by a corporation registered in Israel or incorporated according to Israeli law, where at least two-thirds of its directors are Israeli citizens or permanent residents;
b. It is not registered in a foreign country.
However, the Minister of Transportation may: (i) allow the registration of an aircraft that is even if the first condition above is not met , if it is convinced that there is a sufficient affiliation between the aircraft and Israel; (ii) refuse to register an aircraft even if the above conditions are met, if it is convinced that its registration will harm Israel’s national security or foreign affairs; and (iii) cancel an aircraft’s registration, delete, change or suspend it at any time, for reasons of national security or foreign affairs.
Pursuant to Section 8 of the Draft Regulations (Small Drones), a small drone will be eligible for registration only if it is owned by an Israeli citizen or permanent resident, or owned by a corporation incorporated in Israel and controlled by an Israeli citizen or permanent resident, provided that it does not bear the “nationality or registration marks granted by a foreign country”. The Draft Regulations (RCMA) do not include similar requirements in relation to RCMAs. Both the Draft Regulations (Small Drones) and the Draft Regulations (RCMA) provide a minimum age requirement for the ownership of UAS – 16 years for a small drone and 12 years for a RCMA.
22. Do specific rules regulate the maintenance of UAS?
To the best of our knowledge, there are no specific rules regulating the maintenance of UAS. However, a prerequisite for the issuance of a Certificate of Airworthiness for an aircraft (which includes certain UAS as explained above), is the existence of a flight and maintenance logbook or other appropriate record, detailing the maintenance requirements for the specific aircraft, including the inspection operations that need to be performed, as well as any other information deemed necessary to ensure and maintain its continued airworthiness.
23. Which are the operational and distance limitations for an aerial work with a UAS? Is there any kind of certificate or permission to operate beyond those limitations?
Limitations on the operation of RCMAs:
The following actions are forbidden:
• Flying less than 150 metres from a cloud base.
• In general, flying at an altitude exceeding 50 metres above the ground – unless permission has been obtained from the relevant Air Traffic Control (ATC) unit.
• Flying in low visibility areas (where it is impossible to see more than three kilometres away)
• Flying less than 250 metres from a residential neighbourhood, a public building such as a school, hospital, cinema, etc. or a venue for public gathering.
• Flying within the vicinity of the following: an airport or landing control area or less than 500 metres from a training area for small aircraft.
Any deviation from the above restrictions requires the approval of the airport manager or the landing pad operator or if otherwise stipulated in the AIP (Aeronautical Information Publication).
The Draft Regulations (RCMA) expand the current limitations, by:
• Restricting the speed of RCMAs to 87 knots.
• Restricting the distance between the RCMA operator and the RCMA to 500 metres.
• Restricting the operation at night, and during twilight hours.
• Restricting operation near people and infrastructure.
Limitations on the operation of other UAS:
At present, no specific limitations have been imposed for the operation of UAS that are construed as “aircraft” under the Air Navigation Law. Therefore, the current limitations applicable to the operation of manned aircraft would apply to UAS. Some further specific limitation can be found in AIP B-9, published by the CAAI.
However, with regard to small drones, the Draft Regulations (Small Drones) impose specific limitations, similar to those imposed for the operation of RCMAs. According to the Draft Regulations (Small Drones), flying a small drone is prohibited near airports, runways and training areas for small aircraft, unless approved in advance by the competent authority; the speed limit will be similar to that imposed on RCMAs (87 knots); and the flight altitude will be limited to 60 metres (and up to 100 metres subject to special approval of the Air Force Commander and the ATC Unit). Further, the Draft Regulations (Small Drones) include similar provisions restricting the operation of small drones during twilight and night hours.
Under the Draft Regulations (Small Drones), the Director of the CAAI may permit the “exceptional operation” of a small drone, thereby relieving the operator from one or more of the restrictions stipulated in the Draft Regulations (Small Drones). A similar provision does not appear in the Draft Regulations (RCMA) regarding the operation of RCMAs.
24. Are UAS obliged to take off from and/or land in specific facilities?
Section 75 of the Air Navigation Law, titled: “The take-off and landing of an aircraft” stipulates that: “A person shall not take off or land an aircraft in Israeli territory except from a licensed airport or landing pad, provided that according to the Aeronautical Information Publication, the landing pad or airport are suitable for the take-off or landing of that aircraft…”.
In light of the recognition that UAS do not usually require special infrastructure to take off or land, and because the above stipulation would be deemed unreasonable, given that the operation of UAS would usually not be performed near an airport or landing pad, the Draft Regulations (Small Drones) include a provision that a small drone may take off or land from or at a site that is not a licensed airport or landing site, provided that the operator has checked in advance that the site and its surroundings are suitable for the safe operation of the UAS.
27. Which zones are UAS operations banned?
The following answer refers to questions 25-27
According to the Operation Regulations, Israel’s Flight Information Region (FIR), is divided into areas where flight is prohibited and areas where flight is permitted, with some of the areas permitted for flight being defined as restricted or dangerous areas. The division into the various areas is carried out by the CAAI and is published in its domestic Aeronautical Information Publications (AIP). The areas that are forbidden, restricted or dangerous for flight are listed in AIP A-17. Areas in which UAS are allowed to operate are listed in the map attached to AIP B-9.
All restrictions regarding flying in the areas listed in AIP A-17 apply to UAS (including both drones and RCMAs).
According to Section 51 of the Operation Regulations, a prohibited area is an area defined by space and height in the AIP, in which flight is prohibited unless prior special permission is granted. In accordance with AIP A-17, an application for flight operation in a prohibited area will be referred, in general, to the CAAI Aviation Control Division. Pursuant to Section 33(a)(2) of the Draft Regulations (Small Drones), small drones are excluded from the application of Section 51 of the Air Navigation Law.
Further, according to AIP A-17, some areas are prohibited only for the operation of small UAS operated in a visual line of sight (VLOS) and for sports purposes. These areas are prohibited for operation within a radius of 500 metres and at an altitude of 1000 feet above ground level. Since most of these areas are located in the airspace above prisons and detention facilities, a permission to operate within them requires, in addition to an approval from the CAAI, also coordination with Israel’s Prison Service.
Further rules regarding prohibited areas for the operation UAS are detailed in AIP B-9. As a general rule, operation of a UAS will not be permitted in a controlled area (CTR), unless special approval from the CAAI Director is granted, and only in designated airspaces. Operation of a UAS will also not be permitted in areas where a manned aircraft is being operated, unless otherwise stated in the AIP.
AIP A-17 also prohibits operation of aircraft near Israel’s borders. Due to rapid changes in the security situation, the distances from the border where flight is prohibited are often updated in the temporary aeronautical information publications (NOTAM).
According to Section 52 of the Operation Regulations, a restricted area is an area in which the flight is restricted in space, altitude, time etc., unless prior permission by the Air Traffic Unit (ATC) is granted.
According to Section 53 of the Operation Regulations, a dangerous area is an area where dangerous activities or events may occur and, therefore, flight is prohibited unless the pilot-commander of the aircraft has considered the information regarding the said activities or events and is convinced that operating in the area is not dangerous.
28. Who provides air traffic control services for UAS in your country?
No specific entity or authority is responsible for providing air traffic control services for UAS in Israel. Nonetheless, the Operations Directorate of the Israel Airports Authority (IAA) is the responsible authority for the provision of air traffic services for the entire territory of the State of Israel, including its territorial waters as well as the airspace over the high seas within the Tel-Aviv FIR.
Included amongst the air traffic control services provided by the Operations Directorate are: Alerting Service (ALRS), Area Control (ACC) and Radar Control with the exception of services provided at military air bases. With regard to aerodromes, the following services are provided: Approach Control; Aerodrome Control (TWR); Aeronautical Information Service (AIS); and Automatic Terminal Information Service (ATIS).
Liability and Accidents
29. Are there any special rules in respect of loss or damage to cargo?
No sector specific legislation has been enacted regarding the loss or damage to cargo transported on a UAS. Therefore, the general air transportation laws would apply in such event. Pursuant to Article 1 of the Montreal Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air (1999) (“the Montreal Convention”), which applies in Israel by virtue of Section 3A of the Air Transportation Law, 1980 (“ATL”), “the Convention applies to all international carriage of persons, baggage or cargo performed by aircraft for reward. It applies equally to gratuitous carriage by aircraft performed by an air transport undertaking”. Therefore, UAS which carry cargo, do not appear to be exempted from the application of the Montreal Convention in this context. Pursuant to Section 5(a) to the ATL, the rules established in the Montreal Convention will also apply to domestic air transportation.
30. Are there any special rules about the liability of UAS operators for surface damage?
As far as we are aware, there are no specific rules regarding liability of UAS operators for surface damage. Therefore, Israeli tort legislation (mainly, Israel’s Civil Wrongs Ordinance [New Version]), shall apply.
31. Is there a mandatory accident and incident reporting system and, if so, how does it operate?
The Air Navigation Law prescribes a mandatory reporting system regarding accidents and safety incidents involving aircraft. This applies also to UAS which are construed as “aircraft” under the said Law. The Air Navigation Law specifies three types of safety incidents involving aircraft, in order of severity:
a. A flight accident – an incident related to the operation of the aircraft or inspection operations carried out on the aircraft during which a person was killed or seriously injured, the aircraft sustained serious damage, or an incident in which the aircraft was not located or inaccessible.
b. A severe flight incident – an incident other than a flight accident, related to the operation of an aircraft or to inspection operations carried out on the aircraft, which impacted or could have impacted the safety of its operation, in circumstances where a flight accident almost occurred.
c. A “regular” flight incident – a non-severe flight incident.
A person involved in a safety incident shall notify the Chief Investigator of the Ministry of Transport within 24 hours, stating, inter alia, the place of the incident, the time of the incident and its details. A flight accident or a severe flight incident must be reported immediately. If the person involved in the safety incident cannot report it, the air operator is responsible for reporting same in his stead. The Chief Investigator receiving the report should report the safety incident to both the Minister of Transportation and the Director of the CAAI as soon as possible.
32. What system and procedures are in place for the investigation of UAS accidents?
Pursuant to the provisions of the Air Navigation Law, upon the Chief Investigator being notified about the occurrence of a safety incident (see: response to question 31 above), Israel will be required to conduct a safety investigation as set forth in Annex 13 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation (the “Chicago Convention”). A safety investigation of an incident that need not be investigated according to the Chicago Convention will be conducted only if the Chief Investigator is of the opinion that an investigation will help to promote air safety. Rules regarding the manner of conducting the safety investigation are detailed in the Air Navigation Regulations (Investigation of Aircraft Accidents and Incidents), 1984.
33. Are UAS operators obliged to have insurance for their operations? If so, which are their main features?
Pursuant to the Air Navigation Regulations (Insurance Requirements in Commercial Operation of Aircraft), 2017 (the “Insurance Regulations”), an air operator may operate an aircraft for commercial use, from or to Israel, or within its territory, only if its liability for damages that may be caused to the body of a passenger, its luggage, cargo or property, or to the property of a third party, during a flight, is insured in the minimum amounts set forth in the Insurance Regulations. Insurance must cover damage that may result from war and acts of terror. The procurement of suitable insurance is a prerequisite for obtaining an AOC (for details about AOCs, see: response to question 11 above). As mentioned above, pursuant to Section 33(c) of the Draft Regulations (Small Drone), the operation of a small drone does not require an AOC. However, the applicability of the Insurance Regulations on small drones for commercial use, are not excluded by the Draft Regulations.
34. What is insured? The operator, the business or the aircraft?
In accordance with the provisions of the Insurance Regulations, the air carrier is the one that must be insured against damages that may be caused to a passenger’s body, luggage, cargo or to a third party (see: response to question 33 above).
Financial Support and State Aid
35. Are there sector-specific rules regulating direct or indirect financial support to companies by the government or government-controlled agencies or companies (state aid) in the UAS sector? If not, do general state aid rules apply?
There are no specific rules regulating direct or indirect financial support to companies in the UAS sector. However, the Innovation Authority (the “IA”), which was established by virtue of Section 5(a) of the Law for the Encouragement of Research, Development and Technological Innovation in Industry, 1984 (the “Innovation Law”), provides various financial and other benefits to hi-tech companies and entrepreneurs in the form of grants, loans, exemptions and discounts and also operates programs to promote entrepreneurship and technological innovation, including in the field of UAS. For example, in recent months the IA offered grants to Israeli companies and individuals who will submit innovative ideas for the promotion and creation of aerial transport systems using UAS.
36. What are the main principles of the stated aid rules applicable to the UAS sector?
Pursuant to Section 1 of the Innovation Law, its objectives include:
a. creating jobs and absorbing scientific and technological manpower;
b. creating excess return to the economy resulting from research and development (R&D);
c. development of a science-intensive industry while utilizing and expanding the existing technological and scientific infrastructure and human resources;
d. encouraging growth, increasing productivity and promoting technological innovation in the Israeli industry, including in the Negev and the Galilee; and
e. improving the balance of payments of the country by manufacturing and exporting science-intensive products developed in Israel,
all of the above, by encouraging R&D.
In addition, according to the information available on the IA’s website, the criteria for assessing applications for benefits include:
a. From a technological aspect – the level of technological innovation and the technological challenge, the level of functional innovation, intellectual property and patents.
b. From an economic aspect – the size and pace of market growth, competitive positioning, market validation, marketing strategy and the excess return to the economy.
c. The ability of the company and the team – including from a technological, financial, managerial and business perspective.
d. Quality of cooperation – in the case of international cooperation programs, the level and scope of cooperation and their contribution to Israeli society will be examined and evaluated having regard to both the technological and business aspects.
37. Are there exemptions from the state aid rules or situations in which they do not apply?
No exemptions are included in the applicable law or regulations and any request for state aid is examined based on the criteria and objectives of the IA, as described above.
38. Must clearance from the competition authorities be obtained before state aid may be granted?
Clearance from the Israel Competition Authority is not a prerequisite for granting state aid.