Connect with us

Thai Life

Up in the air: DCA rule changes cause turbulence

Legacy Phuket Gazette




PHUKET: Ongoing regulatory changes made by the Thai Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) headquarters in Bangkok have left recreational flying enthusiasts throughout the Kingdom scrambling to remain in compliance, Up In The Air has learned.

Pat James of AeroPro Management, based at Phuket AirPark in Pa Khlok, said that the administrative adjustments followed a change at the top of the DCA.

The new rules are intended to create a more streamlined and user-friendly system for private aircraft owners. Nearly all facets of aviation regulation have been revamped, including ownership and registration of aircraft as well as pilot licensing procedures.

“Unfortunately, the policy changes have put everything at a standstill until everybody adapts and changes over. Needless to say, when people get used to doing things a certain way – whether it be right or wrong – it is hard to change. Consequently, there are starting to be some delays in the DCA processing as people come in with the wrong paperwork, or submit it in the wrong order,” Pat said.

While some of the new administrative procedures should ultimately help the general aviation community [recreational flyers] in the long run, others make it more restrictive, he explained.

Pat said that he has been flying to Bangkok to meet with DCA staff on a weekly basis since early January, when he first learned that five-year permit applications were not being processed in the usual way by the agency.

One of the most notable changes is that under the new rules all recreational pilots must now be listed as the legal owner of any aircraft they fly.

Before the changes, licenced pilots – including those presenting licences issued by other nations – could be issued five-year permits by the DCA. They could then borrow and use a friend’s aircraft, typically just paying for fuel and other expenses, or work out some other kind of arrangement. But that is no longer possible under the new rules: all would-be pilots must be listed as owners, either fully or in part, of any aircraft they intend to fly.

“This has a large impact on general aviation, because as we all know not everybody can afford to buy an aircraft,” Pat said.

He said the five-year permitting system in place in Thailand is much more restrictive than procedures used in most other countries. The system is intended to ensure that all pilots are extremely-well vetted before they are allowed to take to the skies above the Kingdom, he added.

“But it also cuts very deep into the general aviation community and holds it back under a heavy thumb. They [the DCA] tends to view general aviation more from a security perspective, not as a sport,” Pat said.


The ongoing changes at the DCA will also affect the recreational use of small drone aircraft, which have become increasingly popular in recent years due to improvements in technology and increased affordability.

Swedish drone aircraft enthusiast and part-time Phuket resident Aron Hansson recently used drone aircraft technology to produce an impressive three-minute video entitled Phuket – From The Sky through the popular video-sharing website, Vimeo.

The video, made using a relatively low-cost drone fitted with a GoPro Hero3 and other cameras, comprised segments covering 24 locations across the island, starting with traffic at the Central Festival Phuket junction and ending at Karon Beach. The video has attracted some 40,000 plays since its release on February 6.

Mr Hansson said that he felt lucky to have finished and released the video just days before strict new regulations on drone aircraft came into effect.

He has formed a company in Sweden, AH Film, which allows him to partly finance his drone aircraft hobby, he said.

Unfortunately the sky will no longer be the limit for drone aircraft enthusiasts like Mr Hansson in Thailand, thanks to new regulation that went into effect a few weeks ago.

“To fly a drone aircraft now in now requires that you have licences and permits issued to you. I am told that the people who are responsible will be the Royal Aeronautic Sports Association of Thailand, better known as RASAT, the same people who oversee paramotoring in Thailand,” Pat said.

The rules apparently apply to all remotely-controlled aircraft, including the types that one might receive as Christmas presents, he said.


— Stephen Fein


Get more from The Thaiger

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS
👋 Have your say on our Thailand forum
🔔 Subscribe to our daily newsletter
📺 Subscribe / Join for daily shows
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🐦 FOLLOW us on Twitter
📷 FOLLOW us on Instagram


Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Coronavirus (Covid-19)28 mins ago

Hotel staff in close contact with Omicron confirmed to be negative in second test

Video39 mins ago

Gramma mistakes, Homemade coffee, Bhutan | Thaiger Bites | Ep.76

Southeast Asia1 hour ago

Myanmar ousted leader’s prison sentence reduced to two years

Chon Buri1 hour ago

Tourists stranded an island off the coast of Sattahip rescued by Royal Thai Navy

Thailand2 hours ago

Thailand deploys “King Cobra” unit at Myanmar border to monitor illegal crossings

Phuket4 hours ago

Thai Airways offering round trip Sydney-Phuket flights

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Chiang Mai4 hours ago

1 tourist killed, 8 wounded in crash while on tour of Chiang Mai mountain

Coronavirus (Covid-19)4 hours ago

Hotel staff in close contact to Omicron case tests positive for Covid, variant not confirmed

World5 hours ago

Indonesia and Malaysia expected to launch vaccinated travel lane early next year

Coronavirus (Covid-19)5 hours ago

No need to panic over Thailand’s first Omicron case, says PM

Thailand5 hours ago

Thailand Top Stories | Don’t panic! 6 Belgians saved, Thai TV in Britain | December 7

World5 hours ago

Rohingya accuse Facebook of promoting hate speech in US$150 billion lawsuit

Thailand5 hours ago

The seven mannequins, Luxury car market, Unsafe air in BKK | Good Morning Thailand | Ep.147

World6 hours ago

US confirms diplomatic boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics over human rights abuses

Tourism7 hours ago

Recovery of Thailand’s international tourism sector likely to take years

Thailand3 months ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism9 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism10 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand10 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism10 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand11 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand11 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand11 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand11 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand11 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand11 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand11 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand11 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11