Contributor: Syed Ali Bin Maaz, Mubeena Ellahi and Wahab Thaheem


1. Are UAS considered as “aircraft” in your country?

Yes, a UAS is considered an aircraft in Pakistan, as per the definition of the word “aircraft” provided in the Civil Aviation Ordinance 1960 (the “Ordinance”), which defines an aircraft as “any machine which can derive support in the atmosphere from reactions of the air, and includes balloons, whether captive or free, airships, kites, gliders and flying machines”.

2. Which bodies regulate the remotely-piloted and/or unmanned aircraft operations in your country, under what basic laws?

Unmanned Remotely Controlled Small UAV Airships (“URCSUAs”) in Pakistan are regulated by the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (the “CAA”) pursuant to the Ordinance, the Civil Aviation Rules 1994 (the “Rules”) and Air Navigation Order 016 AWRG 2.0 dated 4th April 2011 (the “ANO”).

On the one hand, Small UAV Airship” means an Airship UAV with a volume less than or equal to 100 cubic meters and a gross weight of over 100 grams.

On the other hand, “UAV” means unmanned airship (other than a balloon or a kite) whose intended purpose is other than recreational use.

Finally, “Airship” means a power driven lighter-than-air aircraft.

3. Is there a distinction between “State UAS” and “Private UAS”?


4. Is there any distinction between public, leisure and commercial UAS? What regulations are provided for UAS operations in each group?

The ANO only applies to URCSUAs, which are intended for purposes other than recreational use. The ANO therefore regulates URCSUAs, which are intended to be used only for commercial purposes. The regulatory body, however, of the manufacturer of the URCSUA is required to endorse the URCSUA for commercial operations if that is the intended purpose of its use pursuant to the ANO.

Generally, the rules governing the operation of recreational vehicles and recreational flying activities within Pakistan are set out in ANO-003-AWRG-4.0 dated 04.04.2011 and ANO-021-FSXX-3.0 dated 01.02.2018.

In Pakistan, “Recreational Vehicle” means “a piloting device used for the purpose of recreational activities, such as an Ultra Light Vehicle, Sports Airplane, Hang Glider, Powered Parachute, etc.”

Furthermore, “Ultra Light Vehicle” means “an aeronautical vehicle that:

      1. is used or intended to be used for manned operations in the air by a maximum of two occupants;
      2. if empowered, weighs less than 200 pounds; or
      3. if powered:
        1. weighs not more than 500 pounds empty weight, excluding fuel, floats and safety devices which are intended for deployment in a potentially catastrophic situation;
        2. has a fuel capacity not exceeding 15 US gallons;
        3. is not capable of more than 85 KCAS at full power in level flight; and,
        4. unless otherwise approved by the Competent Authority, has a power off stall speed not exceeding 45 KCAS.

And, “Sports Airplane” means an amateur built vehicle that:

  1. has capacity for not more than two occupants;
  2. has a gross weight not exceeding 1200 lb;
  3. unless otherwise approved by the Competent Authority; has a stall speed not exceeding 52 KCAS.

5. Is there a distinction, in terms of regulation, between completely autonomous UAS and remotely-piloted UAS?

Currently there are no rules and regulations governing autonomous URCSUAs in Pakistan. However, there is a general prohibition on flying aircraft without a pilot unless prior permission of the Director General of the CAA (“Director General”) is obtained and compliance is made with any conditions proposed by the Director General under rule 145 of the Rules. In respect of the regulations pertaining to unmanned remotely controlled airships, please refer to our response to question 2.

Regulation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (“UAS”) Operations - Safety

6. How are UAS operations regulated in terms of safety?

The “Operator-in-Command” or the “OIC” is directly responsible for the operations of a URCSUA. The URCSUA OIC is accountable for controlling his aircraft according to the same standards as the pilot of a manned aircraft in accordance with the Rules which provide that pilots-in-command shall be responsible for the operation and safety of the aircraft, passengers and the conducts of the crew. The Director General of the CAA has the power, under rule 72 of the Rules, to ground an aircraft if it believes that the intended flight of the aircraft would contravene any provision of the rules relating to safety of flight operations. Further, the ANO sets out additional requirements in order to regulate the safety of URCSUA’s which include, among other things, the following:

  1. A URCSUA cannot drop/discharge a thing in a way that it creates a hazard for another aircraft, person or property on ground;
  2. A URCSUA cannot operate within 10m horizontally and 30m vertically of a person not involved in the operation;
  3. In the event of a lost ling, a URCSUA must be equipped with an automatic recovery system;
  4. Only URCSUA’s “purpose-built” for night time operations will be allowed to operate at night.

7. Is the applicable regulation considering the rule of 1 UAS = 1 pilot?

We are not aware of any such consideration under the applicable laws of Pakistan.

Regulation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems ("UAS") Operations - Licensing

8. What procedures are there to obtain licenses or the rights to operate UAS?

The person in active control of the URCSUA i.e. the Operator-in-Command or the OIC is subject to the following eligibility requirements:

  1. the applicant must be 17 years of age or above;
  2. the applicant shall hold a Secondary School Certificate (matriculation) or an equivalent qualification;
  3. the applicant has undergone and completed a training course conducted by the airship Manufacturer/Operator in the operations of the type of URCSUA that operator proposes to operate and has received a Competence Certificate or equivalent, and must indicate any applicable ratings;
  4. the applicant must be a member of the URCSUA’s organisation which is duly registered with the CAA;
  5. the applicant shall hold either a valid Micro Light Competency Medical Certificate (MCC) or a higher Medical Certificate from the CAA or its authorised medical officer;

The applicants with the following qualifications and experience shall only require the type training with URCSUA basic subjects and need to satisfy the requirements prescribed in clauses 3,4 and 5 set out above, excluding the extended requirements of 1-17 below (except 3) of this question 8:

  1. The applicant holds or has held a pilot license (PPL or above) or has equivalent military qualifications; or
  2. The applicant is a qualified Air Traffic Control Officer (ATCO) or has an equivalent military qualification; or
  3. The applicant is a qualified Forward Observation Officer (FOO);

The training course as mentioned in paragraph 3 above shall include, but not be limited to, the following subjects:

  1. Air Law – Basic Concepts;
  2. Applicable Rules, ANOs, Directives, Air Safety Circulars;
  3. Airship General Knowledge;
  4. Flight performance and planning;
  5. Human performance and limitations;
  6. Meteorology;
  7. Navigation;
  8. Airship Operational procedures;
  9. Radiotelephony, accident/incident reporting requirements of CAA;
  10. Use of the applicable portions of the Aeronautical Information Public (AIP);
  11. Recognition of critical weather situations from the ground and in flight, wind avoidance, the applicable procurement and use of aeronautical weather reports/forecasts;
  12. The safe and efficient operation of airships including collision avoidance, recognition and avoidance of wake turbulence;
  13. Weight and balance computations;
  14. Principles of applicable aerodynamics, power plants and airship systems;
  15. Aeronautical decision making and judgment;
  16. Pre-flight action as applicable; and
  17. Radio communication skills.

To qualify for the Unmanned Airship Operator’s Certificate, the applicant must have a minimum of 5 hours experience under supervision in operating the type of airship for which the applicant is seeking an Unmanned Airship Operator’s Certificate in an uncontrolled airspace and a minimum of 10 under-supervision landings and take-offs.

Furthermore, the applicant must undertake a skill test to demonstrate his skills to the CAA Inspector or a Designated Examiner in the following fields:

  1. Take off and landings
  2. Circuit flying
  3. Ground level hovering
  4. Altitude hovering
  5. Limited glide
  6. Emergency procedures
  7. Coordination with respective Air Traffic Services units.

9. Are there any kind of taxes or fees regarding the licensing procedure?

Yes, fees and other relevant requirements are prescribed by each concerned directorate of the CAA. The owner shall make an application to the CAA for the registration of the drone and obtain a certificate of registration by paying a prescribed fee of $60. Unless an exemption as set out in our response to question 10 below is obtained for the application of a certificate of airworthiness, the applicant shall pay a fee of $250.

10. Is a Certificate of Airworthiness mandatory to operate a UAS?

No, however the ANO requires an exemption to be sought from the general requirements of obtaining a Certificate of Airworthiness (“COA”) from the Director General of the CAA. Therefore, the exemption from the COA can only be availed if the applicant has successfully applied for the exemption.

11. Is access to the market for the provision of UAS operation services regulated and, if so, how?

Yes, by way of the Ordinance, the Rules, the ANO and the ANO 91.0021 dated 13th September 2000.

12. What requirements apply in the areas of financial strength and nationality of ownership regarding control of UAS?

There are no specific criteria in respect of creditworthiness of an applicant intending to apply for a licence to operate and control a URCSUA in Pakistan under the Rules and the ANO and there are no restrictions set out in respect of nationality of owners thereunder.

13. Is drone transport permitted / regulated in your country?

Yes, assuming that the term transport is intended to mean the transport of the drone from one place to another and not transport of other things by the drone. Even otherwise, there is no express prohibition on the transport of goods by drones; however, the ANO provides that “A person must not cause a thing to be dropped or discharged from an URCSUA in a way that creates a hazard to another aircraft, person or property on ground”.

Regulation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems ("UAS") - Operations - Others

14. Is there a specific Data & Privacy Protection regulation applicable to UAS operations?

No. However, under the local laws it is an offence to access or transmit an information system or data without first obtaining authorization from the person(s) whose information system or data is being accessed or transmitted.

15. Is there a specific control-link interference regulation applicable to UAS operations?

Refer to our response to question 31 below.

16. Do specific rules regulate UAS manufacturers?


17. What requirements must a foreign UAS operator satisfy in order to operate to or from your country?

The rules and regulations governing URCSUAs apply equally to foreign and local operators. There are no additional or separate requirements for foreign URCSUA operators.

18. Are fares or pricing of UAS operations regulated and, if so, how?


The Aircraft (“UAS”)

19. Must UAS be registered in any particular register?

Yes, the URCSUA must be registered in the Pakistan Aircraft Register maintained by the CAA (“PAR”).

20. Who is entitled to be mentioned in the UAS register?

The name of the owner/operator of the URCSUA will be mentioned in the PAR.

21. Do requirements or limitations apply to the ownership of a UAS listed on your country’s register?

No, apart from the requirement stated in our response to question 19 there are no other requirements or limitations that we are aware of.

22. Do specific rules regulate the maintenance of UAS?

Yes, the ANO regulates the maintenance of the URCSUAs. It states that “operators”, which term is defined to mean “a person, organization or enterprise engaged in, or offering to engage in URCSUA operations and having management of URCSUA”, can maintain the URCSUA and its associated engines in accordance with the manner prescribed by the manufacturer of the URCSUA after seeking an approval from the CAA. The Operators are required to provide the following documentations to the Airworthiness Directorate for their approval:

  1. Company Exposition Manual.
  2. Qualification for CAA approved position of Chief Engineer
  3. Maintenance Schedule.
  4. Illustrated parts catalogue, wiring diagram manual/structural repair manual as applicable.
  5. Source of receipt of modification from manufacturers and Airworthiness Directive, service bulletins or service letters etc, from regulatory body of country of manufacturer as applicable.

If a person does not hold the approval mentioned above, he cannot carry out maintenance of URCSUA or its component or material. It is important to note that any person responsible for the maintenance of the URCSUA is subject to compliance of any requirements that may be prescribed by the CAA for the maintenance of the URCSUA.

Operation Zones

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?

A person may operate a URCSUA up to 400 feet Above Ground Level (“AGL) only in an area approved as an area for the operation of unmanned airship, and in accordance with any conditions prescribed in the approval.

A person may operate a URCSUA above 400 feet AGL in controlled airspace only in an area approved for the operations of unmanned airship of the same kind as the URCSUA, and in accordance with any conditions of the approval and Air Traffic Control clearance provided that the person is a certified URCSUA Operator, maintaining a listening watch on a specified frequency and makes broadcasts on a specified frequency at the specified interval giving the specified information.

A person may operate a URCSUA outside an approved area only if the URCSUA is operated above 400 feet AGL, the Operator has obtained CAA’s approval and has duly co-coordinated with Air Traffic Services/Control Unit.

Any person operating a URCSUA must not operate it within 30 meters of an individual who is not directly associated with the operations of the URCSUA unless the individual is present behind the URCSUA while it is taking off or the URCSUA is at a distance of 10 meters horizontally and 30 feet vertically from that individual.

Furthermore, a URCSUA should not be operated in poor weather conditions which lead to low cloud base and ground visibility of less than 1 km unless the URCSUA is in sight of the operator and beneath the cloud base at all times

A purpose-built URCSUA for night-time operations can be used at night. A person may operate a URCSUA at night or in conditions other than Visual Flight Rules/In-sight, which term is defined to mean the method of control and collision avoidance that refers to the URCSUA OIC or observer directly viewing the URCSUA with human eyesight. Corrective lenses (spectacles or contact lenses) may be used by the OIC or observer. Aids to vision, such as binoculars, field glasses, or telephoto television may be employed as long as their field of view does not adversely affect the surveillance task” in accordance with an air traffic control clearance/instruction.

24. Are UAS obliged to take off from and/or land in specific facilities?

Please refer to our response to question 25 below.

25. Which kind of airspaces are UAS permitted to operate with?

Any person may apply to the Director Operations at the Head Quarters of the CAA to approve and designate an area as an area for the operation of URCSUA. However, an area or airspace already designated for military and other purposes cannot be applied for to be used as a designated area for operation of a URCSUA.

Generally, URCSUA can be operated in or over restricted areas, controlled areas, uncontrolled areas and in the vicinity of aerodromes, subject to necessary approvals and permissions being sought by the operator from the CAA.

The terms “Restricted Area”, “Prohibited Area”, “Control Area” are defined to mean an area designated by the Director General under rule 67 of the Rules to be a restricted area, a prohibited area, or a control area. Pursuant to rule 67 of the Rules the Director-General may designate:

  1. an aerodrome at which aerodrome control service is provided as a controlled aerodrome;
  2. an airspace that is within defined horizontal and vertical limits as an airway, a control area, or a control zone;
  3. an airspace in respect of which flight information and alerting services are available as a flight information region;
  4. an airspace within which activities dangerous to aircraft may exist as a danger area;
  5. an airspace within which the flight of aircraft is restricted as a restricted area; and
  6. an airspace within which the flight of aircraft is prohibited, as a prohibited area.

Pursuant to the ANO, for operations in a restricted area, the operator must first apply to the concerned controlling authority of that area and intimate the director of operations and obtain permission of the controlling authority and operate the URCSUA in accordance with the conditions imposed by the authority controlling that area. The operator must submit a copy of the approval/permission to the director of the CAA one day in advance from the date of operating the URCSUA.

For operations in a controlled airspace, which is an area approved for the operations of unmanned airship of the same kind as the URCSUA, the operator must act in accordance with any conditions imposed in the approval and Air Traffic Control clearance.

For operations in an uncontrolled airspace, a person may operate the URCSUA with prior coordination and permission of the Director of CAA and in accordance with any conditions of the approval. The operation in uncontrolled areas must be duly coordinated with Air Traffic Services/Control Unit and shall be conducted as per instructions of concerned Area Control Centre/Air Traffic Services unit.

A person may operate a URCSUA in the vicinity of an aerodrome only in accordance with the permission of DGCAA and according to Air Traffic Control clearance/instructions. If the concerned aerodrome is a controlled aerodrome, permission of the air traffic control service for the aerodrome must be obtained, and if the aerodrome is a private aerodrome then the permission of the owner of the aerodrome (airstrip) has to be obtained.

URCSUA may also operate in non-designated areas subject to the approval of ATS Units and the conditions imposed by the concerned ATS Unit.

26. Which airspaces are restricted for UAS?

Please refer to our answer to question 25.

27. Which zones are UAS operations banned?

Please refer to our answer to question 25.

28. Who provides air traffic control services for UAS in your country?

The CAA is the body that provides air traffic control services in Pakistan.

Liability and Accidents

29. Are there any special rules in respect of loss or damage to cargo?

Please refer to our response to question 30 below.

30. Are there any special rules about the liability of UAS operators for surface damage?

No, however under the ANO, no person shall operate a URCSUA in a way that creates a hazard to another aircraft, another person, or property.

Every person operating the URCSUA shall ensure no thing is dropped or discharged from a URCSUA in a way that creates a hazard to another aircraft, person or property on ground.

The Operations-Commander (“OC”) are the “on field” persons designated to take responsibility for all matters relating to the operation of the URCSUA and for the safety, including safety of crowd, collision avoidance and adherence to the Rules. All operations related matters are also the OC’s responsibility. The OC may also be or act as the OIC. In any event, the OC has to be declared the OC before the commencement of an operation. If the OC for any reason is not physically present on the field, the operations must be halted until another OC is declared to be present on the field.

It is important to note that the URCSUA OIC is held accountable for controlling the aircraft to the same standards as a pilot of a manned aircraft is and it is the responsibility of the OC to ensure that the OIC maintains the said standard.

31. Is there a mandatory accident and incident reporting system and, if so, how does it operate?

No, however, pursuant to the ANO, the OC shall at all times ensure the integrity of communication and coordination with the Air Traffic Controller. In the event of loss of controller link or loss of control, the operator must instantly notify the nearest ATS unit with the following information:

  1. The original location of the URCSUA.
  2. The time the URCSUA lost controller link or control was lost over the URCSUA for any other reason.
  3. The status of the URCSUA.
  4. The estimated flight path of the URCSUA.
  5. Last known height/altitude

A URCSUA in Pakistan has to be equipped with a means of automatic recovery or considerable risk mitigation factors in the event of a lost link to ensure that the airborne operations are predictable/recoverable or considerably non-destructive in nature in the event of Lost Link. Lost link measures must be autonomously activatable by the airship itself without any external input whatsoever. The Operator must demonstrate a capability of ensuring that this system is operational. Civil Aviation Authority will judge for itself the competence of an Operator’s Lost Link system and whether it is indeed worthy of implementation.

32. What system and procedures are in place for the investigation of UAS accidents?

Please refer to our response to question 31 above.

33. Are UAS operators obliged to have insurance for their operations? If so, which are their main features?

Yes. Pursuant to Rule 48 of the Insurance Rules, 2017, read with 165(2) of the Insurance Ordinance, no person shall insure outside Pakistan any risk or part thereof in respect of any property or interest which is located in Pakistan at the time the insurance is affected. The implication of the specific wording of the statute is that in the case of an ambulatory chattel, which is physically located outside Pakistan at the time the insurance is affected, the insurance need not be affected with a Pakistani insurer. However, we have in practice not seen Pakistani aircraft operators being required by their lenders to affect insurance outside Pakistan principally because of the assignment of reinsurances and/or cut-through arrangements.

The aircraft must be insured in Pakistan unless an exemption is obtained as set out above.  It is customary for Pakistani insurers of aircraft to reinsure a substantial proportion of the risk in the international markets.

However, if need be, the Federal Government may grant an exemption where (a) any risk cannot be insured suitably in Pakistan; or (b) there are reasons of exceptional nature for granting exemption.

Additionally, please note that pursuant to Rule 18 of the Insurance Rules 2017 (“Insurance Rules”), no insurer shall reinsure facultatively outside Pakistan any insurance business or any part thereof underwritten by it in Pakistan without the permission of the Securities Exchange Commission of Pakistan (“SECP”). However, SECP may grant permission under Rule 18(2) of the Insurance Rules in any of the following circumstances: (a) the insurance or any part thereof is in excess of the insurer‘s treaty arrangements, and SECP is provided with documentary evidence that such excess cannot be reasonably placed within Pakistan; (b) the insurance business, although covered by a treaty arrangement, shall be desired to be reinsured facultatively for protecting the treaty or for any other special reason: provided that such facultative reinsurance shall not run contrary to subsisting contractual obligations under the treaty; and (c) the insurance business is of special nature and there are no treaty arrangements for it. Thus, the aircraft located in Pakistan must be insured/reinsured in Pakistan unless an exemption is obtained as set out above.

34. What is insured? The operator, the business or the aircraft?

Please refer to our response to question 33.

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?


36. What are the main principles of the stated aid rules applicable to the UAS sector?


37. Are there exemptions from the state aid rules or situations in which they do not apply?


38. Must clearance from the competition authorities be obtained before state aid may be granted?


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