Contributor: Efe Erten, Ece Yelmen
1. Are UAS considered as “aircraft” in your country?
Yes; pursuant Article 3(b) of the Turkish Civil Aviation Law a vehicle which is able to fly is an aircraft thus an unmanned aerial vehicle/system (UAV/UAS, in Turkish “IHA”) is legally an aircraft under Turkish law. In Turkey IHA’s (unmanned aerial vehicles, “UAV”) are classified by their maximum take of mass (“MTOM”).
- UAS0 has a MTOM between 500g’s (inclusive) and 4kg’s.
- UAS1 has MTOM between 4kg’s (inclusive) and 25kg’s.
- UAS2 has MTOM between 25kg’s (inclusive) and 150kg’s.
- UAS3 has a MTOM over 150kg’s (inclusive)
2. Which bodies regulate the remotely-piloted and/or unmanned aircraft operations in your country, under what basic laws?
In Turkey sole aviation regulator is the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (“CAA”) which is a central governmental body. Thus, remotely piloted and/or unmanned aircraft operations are regulated, certified, investigated and monitored by the CAA pursuant their directive about unmanned aircraft systems which was first published 22.02.2016 and most recently revised on 12.7.2020 (“Directive”). Certain UAS’s are excluded from the scope of the Directive: “State UAS’s, UAS exclusively operated indoors, UAS with a MTOM (maximum take-off mass) less than 500g, moored balloons. CAA has launched a dedicated web portal (www.iha.shgm.gov.tr) (“Portal”) for managing all UAS services such as registration, pilot authorization and flight permission.
3. Is there a distinction between “State UAS” and “Private UAS”?
Yes; UAS’s which are used by the Turkish government for military, security, customs and wildfire suppression are denominated “State UAS’s” under the Directive.
4. Is there any distinction between public, leisure and commercial UAS? What regulations are provided for UAS operations in each group?
Yes, public, leisure and commercial UAS operations are differentiated and operations of publicly owned UAS’s i.e. State UAS’s do not fall within the scope of the Directive. The Directive jointly regulates commercial and leisure/recreational operations (sport activities, amateur and hobby flights) and has softer rules for leisure flights: Authorizations for recreational flights operations outside the flight restriction zones (“Green Zone”) is universally and automatically granted upon online application, UAS training and flight operation manual is not mandatory for recreational operations and liability insurance is not compulsory for leisure operations of UAS’s weighing less than 25kg’s (UAS0’s and UAS1’s).
5. Is there a distinction, in terms of regulation, between completely autonomous UAS and remotely-piloted UAS?
Although there is an exclusive definition for autonomous operations in the Directive there is no distinction in terms of regulation between autonomous and remotely piloted UAS operations.
Regulation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (“UAS”) Operations - Safety
6. How are UAS operations regulated in terms of safety?
All UAS’s must be operated with a special authorization (“Flight Permit”) from CAA which is the sole regulator of flight safety. Except for recreational operations in Green Zones, pilots, licensed air carriers and licensed firms provisioning UAS services (“Lightweight UAS Operators”) must apply for a Flight Permit prior to the operation via Portal. CAA grants Flight Permits for operations under 400ft for periods not exceeding 3 months (2 months for operations above 200ft or operations in restricted zones (“Red Zone”)) and may revoke the Flight Permit if there should be a concern about flight safety and flight security. Independent of their class all commercially operated UAS’s must have a flight operations manual and a risk assessment must be performed for operations in restricted zones. Flight operations manual of UAS2 and UAS3’s must be ratified by CAA and moreover Lightweight UAS Operators must have a dedicated flight safety management organizations and system. Flight limits and rules for different classes of UAS’s are set forth in Article 19 of the Directive and as shown in the below table:
7. Is the applicable regulation considering the rule of 1 UAS = 1 pilot?
Directive is considering the rule of 1 UAS = 1 pilot rule only for individual UAS operators. On the other hand there is no 1 UAS = 1 pilot prohibition for commercial UAS operating entities.
Regulation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems ("UAS") Operations - Licensing
8. What procedures are there to obtain licenses or the rights to operate UAS?
UAS pilot licenses are granted by the CAA under the rules and procedures set forth in the Article 14 of the Directive. Licensing criteria and procedures differ for different types of UAS classes and different types of operation (recreational/commercial) as shown in the below table. All pilots must have a clean criminal record.
9. Are there any kind of taxes or fees regarding the licensing procedure?
No, CAA doesn’t charge any taxes or fees for pilot registration or licenses. However there might be training and course fees for pilot license.
10. Is a Certificate of Airworthiness mandatory to operate a UAS?
11. Is access to the market for the provision of UAS operation services regulated and, if so, how?
No, there is no specific regulation governing the access to the market.
12. What requirements apply in the areas of financial strength and nationality of ownership regarding control of UAS?
Directive doesn’t indicate conditions and/or requirements in particular for the financial fitness of the UAS owners or operators. Under the nationality rule of the Turkish Civil Aviation Law foreign ownership of aircrafts is restricted. An aircraft is qualified as Turkish if the owner is a Turkish real person or a Turkish legal person of which Turkish citizens hold the majority of equity and control. UAS’s are legally aircraft thus the same nationality restriction apply.
13. Is drone transport permitted / regulated in your country?
Drone transport is neither prohibited nor regulated in the Directive. Pursuant to Turkish Civil Aviation Law. In Turkey transportation of cargo with aircrafts is permitted only for CAA licensed commercial air carriers.
Regulation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems ("UAS") - Operations - Others
14. Is there a specific Data & Privacy Protection regulation applicable to UAS operations?
No, But UAS operator has the responsibility to give importance and take care of privacy.
15. Is there a specific control-link interference regulation applicable to UAS operations?
No, there are no specific regulations for control link interference but procedures and rules for loss of control-link are set forth in Article 23 of the Directive.
16. Do specific rules regulate UAS manufacturers?
No, there are no specific rules regulating UAS manufacturers although the minimum technical and equipment requirements for different classes of UAS’s are listed in Article 7 of the Directive.
17. What requirements must a foreign UAS operator satisfy in order to operate to or from your country?
Foreign operators must apply 20 days prior to the operation to CAA for a flight permit and present an insurance policy (except for recreational operations of UASO’s and UAS1’s) which must be in compliance with the CAA regulation of 15.11.2005 governing the standards of third party liability insurance policies of aircrafts.
18. Are fares or pricing of UAS operations regulated and, if so, how?
Prices related to registration regulated by CAA. On the other hand, there is no regulation related to the price of UAS operations.
The Aircraft (“UAS”)
19. Must UAS be registered in any particular register?
UAS2’s and UAS3’s must be registered to the Turkish aircraft registry.
20. Who is entitled to be mentioned in the UAS register?
As per the Article 57 of the Turkish Civil Aviation Law name of the manufacturer and owner is mentioned in the register.
21. Do requirements or limitations apply to the ownership of a UAS listed on your country’s register?
Yes, only UAS’s owned/leased by Turkish real persons and Turkish legal persons of which Turkish citizens hold the majority of equity and control. UAS’s are legally aircraft thus the same nationality restriction apply.
22. Do specific rules regulate the maintenance of UAS?
Yes, the maintenance of UAS must be performed in line with Article 7 of the Directive and according to the manuals published by the manufacturers and maintenance responsibility lies with the UAS pilot.
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?
For all kind of UAS operations a flight permit is granted in principle by CAA either automatically (for recreational flights in Green Zone’s) or upon application. Flight zones, operational limits and flight permit conditions for Green and Red Zones and operational limitations are set forth in Article 17 et seq. of the Directive. Operations in Red Zones (Please refer to answer 26) are prohibited to any type of operation and to any class of UAS and may only be performed with a flight permit which will be granted by CAA subject to performance of a risk analysis.
The main general operational limitations are:
- Only daytime flight with at least 2km view is allowed.
- Maximum horizontal limit is 500 meters.
- Maximum operation height is 400 feet above ground level (“AGL”).
- Flight must be at least 50 meters away from people and buildings.
24. Are UAS obliged to take off from and/or land in specific facilities?
No, pursuant to Article 19/4 it is not mandatory for UAS operations to use airports, heliports and air park’s.
25. Which kind of airspaces are UAS permitted to operate with?
Green Zones are automatically permitted to recreational UAS0 and UAS1 operations and permitted to all commercial operations upon flight permit application to CAA. All operations in Green Zones are subject to general operation limits listed in Answer 23 above.
26. Which airspaces are restricted for UAS?
Red Zones which are listed below are restricted for UAS operations:
- Airports and airspace within 9m radius from the edge of the runways (regardless of altitude)
- Airspace within 9m radius around navigation aids, heliports and -pads, airpark’s and take-off and landing areas on water announced on CAA’s web site (regardless of altitude)
- Airspace above AGL of 400 meters
- “Forbidden, Restricted and Dangerous Airspaces” set out in Turkish AIP (Aeronautical Information Publication) under Section ENR 5.1
- Airspace near to critical structures, facilities and assets such as military buildings and facilities, correctional facilities, fuel depots and stations, weapon and cartridge factories and warehouses
- Prohibited airspace via NOTAM (notice to airmen)
27. Which zones are UAS operations banned?
Please refer to the Answer 26 above.
28. Who provides air traffic control services for UAS in your country?
CAA is the aviation regulator and provides the air traffic control services for all kinds of aircrafts including UAS’s.
Liability and Accidents
29. Are there any special rules in respect of loss or damage to cargo?
No, general rules and rules of Warsaw and Montreal conventions apply.
30. Are there any special rules about the liability of UAS operators for surface damage?
No, general rules of liability from damage apply.
31. Is there a mandatory accident and incident reporting system and, if so, how does it operate?
Yes. All aircraft accident must be reported by their pilots or crew to the Ministry of Transport and accidents are investigated by a special commission to be formed by the Ministry of Transport under the rules and procedures set out in the Turkish Civil Aviation Law.
32. What system and procedures are in place for the investigation of UAS accidents?
Rules and procedures of aircraft accident investigation are set forth in Articles 10 et seq. of Turkish Civil Aviation Law by an expert commission in accordance with an whose members are appointed by the Ministry of Transport. The commission investigates the accidents in collaboration with the public prosecutor and make carry out interrogations with the assistance of the public prosecutor in order to elucidate the causes of the accident and presents a final report to the Ministry of Transport and an announcement is then published in the official gazette to inform the concerned parties that the report is ready and open to review.
33. Are UAS operators obliged to have insurance for their operations? If so, which are their main features?
Yes, except for recreational operations of UASO’s and UAS1’s, a third party liability insurance which must be in compliance with the CAA regulation of 15.11.2005 governing the standards of third party liability insurance policies of aircrafts is mandatory for all commercial UAS operations and for all type of operations of UAS2’s and UAS3’s.
34. What is insured? The operator, the business or the aircraft?
Damage and injury to third parties is insured.
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 for state support or aid for UAS sector, general rules apply.
36. What are the main principles of the stated aid rules applicable to the UAS sector?
There are no specific rules for UAS sector. State aid for investments in general are under the control of the Ministry of Finance.
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?