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LCQ11: Small unmanned aircraft
     Following is a question by the Hon Jeffrey Lam and a written reply by the Secretary for Transport and Logistics, Mr Lam Sai-hung, in the Legislative Council today (July 13):

     Regarding small unmanned aircraft (SUA) (commonly referred to as "drone"), will the Government inform this Council:
(1) as it has been reported that incidents of clandestine photo-taking of members of the public (including public figures) using SUA occurred time and again in the past, of the specific measures put in place by the Government to track and monitor SUA that enter restricted flying zones and cause nuisances to residential areas; 

(2) given that the Civil Aviation Department (CAD) launched the SUA Advanced Training Organisation Scheme in December last year and invited participation by interested training organisations and bodies to provide advanced training courses for remote pilots conducting higher risk operations, of the up-to-date list of those which have successfully applied to the CAD for becoming a SUA Approved Training Organisation, as well as the details of the criteria for granting the relevant approval; and
(3) given the increasing demand of the public for SUA training, whether the Government will subsidise the public to receive the relevant training and launch official training schemes?

     To cater for the applications and developments of small unmanned aircraft (SUA) while safeguarding aviation and public safety, a piece of subsidiary legislation, the Small Unmanned Aircraft Order (Cap. 448G) (SUA Order), is made under the Civil Aviation Ordnance (Cap. 448) to provide a forward-looking regulatory regime for SUA. Under the SUA Order, SUA operations, regardless of recreational or commercial purposes, are regulated under a risk-based approach. Based on the weight of the SUA and the operational risk level, SUA operations are subject to the corresponding regulatory requirements, including the registration and labeling of SUA, the registration of remote pilots, training and assessment, equipment, operating requirements, insurance.

     The SUA Order commenced on June 1, 2022. Except for offences in relation to endangering acts, restricted flying zones and enforcement which have taken immediate effect upon commencement, a six-month grace period has been given for the public to familiarise and comply with the new requirements. As at June 30, 2022, over 10 000 people have registered as remote pilots. 

     The reply to Member's question is as follows:
(1) Police officers and the authorised officers appointed under the SUA Order are empowered to prevent an SUA from affecting public or aviation safety and other unauthorised SUA operations. The enforcement powers cover, for instance, preventing an SUA from flying or causing an SUA to land; preventing and/or stopping interference of or causing damage to SUA; seizing, detaining, searching and examining SUA and associated controlling device(s), etc. Offences relating to enforcement include refusal to produce documents and/or records in relation to SUA and flight operation; wilfully obstructing or impeding an authorised officer or a police officer.

     If a person commits an offence under the SUA Order, the person is liable on conviction on indictment to a fine at level 6, i.e. $100,000, and imprisonment for two years. Depending on the types and seriousness of the offences and circumstances of the cases, enforcement agencies which include police officers and the authorised officers appointed under the SUA Order may take actions ranging from issuance of warnings/safety direction, suspension or revocation of registration/permission/rating/approval, etc, to prosecution in court. The Civil Aviation Department (CAD) will continue to work closely with the Hong Kong Police Force (HKPF) to enforce the SUA Order by various means, including patrolling and following up on complaints, and conducting joint operations when necessary, with a view to safeguarding aviation and public safety. 

     In order to enhance the public awareness of the new SUA Order and the safety awareness of SUA operations, the CAD has launched a series of publicity and public relations campaigns on SUA, including promotional videos on television and audio on radio, posters, leaflets, online promotional videos and briefing for stakeholders from different sectors. The CAD and the HKPF have also conducted joint publicity campaigns on various hotspots of SUA operations in Hong Kong by distributing leaflets and explaining the requirements under the SUA Order, so as to raise the public awareness of flight safety.

     With the implementation of the SUA Order, the traceability of SUA owners and remote pilots is enhanced, facilitating the enforcement of the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance (Cap. 486) (PDPO). As regards the potential privacy issues arising from SUA operations, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data (PCPD) oversees the implementation and compliance with the provisions of the PDPO. Guidance on CCTV Surveillance and Use of Drones issued by the PCPD provides guidance and recommendations on the proper use of drones from the perspective of protection of personal data privacy. Meanwhile, privacy awareness information including PDPO provisions and the responsibilities of remote pilots for safe and proper SUA operations has been included into the information pack that remote pilots must read prior to their registration.

(2) and (3) Under the SUA Order, a remote pilot conducting Category B operation shall hold an advanced rating to ensure that the remote pilot possesses the necessary knowledge, experience and competence. Category B operation includes operations exceeding operating requirements, operations of SUA weighing over 7 kilograms, operations of SUA within a restricted flying zone or carriage of dangerous goods. Such operations are of higher risk and prior permission from the CAD is required. 

     The CAD launched the SUA Advanced Training Organisation Scheme in end 2021. Remote pilots may undergo training and assessment at advanced level for the issue of Advanced Rating. As at June 30, 2022, 32 advanced training courses were held and over 610 people were trained. The list of Approved Training Organisations and recognised courses is uploaded on the CAD's website (www.cad.gov.hk/documents/SUA_Training_Organisations_en.pdf) and will be updated from time to time. Currently, the list includes courses provided by two statutory institutions, namely the Vocational Training Council and the Hong Kong Productivity Council. The Government will continue to recognise courses under the SUA Advanced Training Organisation Scheme to meet the market demand.

     Training organisations and bodies intending to deliver advanced training may apply to the CAD to become the SUA Approved Training Organisations. When approving the application, the CAD will consider various factors, including the content of the courses, the qualification of tutors and venue, to ensure that a remote pilot possesses the necessary knowledge, experience and competence after the completion of a recognised course.
Ends/Wednesday, July 13, 2022
Issued at HKT 15:15
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