Defense ministry insists drone flyers must have license, cites security risks

Thanh Nien News

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 A quadcopter spotted in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Doc Lap
Little unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) equipped with cameras, better known as drones, came as a major boon for hobbyists across Vietnam. 
Their simplicity and convenience allows many people to create stunning videos of famous destinations from above.
In a way, these drones have helped promote Vietnam's tourism, at a time when the country really needs to remind travelers of its beautiful scenery. 
But the growing popularity of drones has also caused worries among local officials. Now they want to tighten control over these flying vehicles. 
The Ministry of Defense said agencies across the country need to make sure that all operators have a license before they can start flying drones. Traders and producers of drones have to be licensed as well. 
The ministry said these rules were introduced in 2008, but have not been adequately policed. 
One of its agencies in Hanoi caught camera drones in areas restricted from flying activities in two different cases since May. The drones have been seized. 
Similar cases have also happened in Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang and Binh Duong, where drones are popular, according to the ministry.
Although drones often fly at low speeds and heights, far from aerial routes, and do not require special flying skills, there are security risks when many people sell and operate them without a license, it said.
The ministry also encouraged drone users to join so-called aviation clubs managed by the government so their activities are "in line with regulations."
Speaking to Thanh Nien, representatives of aviation clubs said it is necessary to monitor drones.
Dang Ngoc Ngu, director of the Southern Aviation Club, advised drone users to apply for a license. The process only takes seven to 10 days. 
One license can be valid for multiple flying events, as long as users list places they plan to fly their drones in their application, he said.
According to Ngu, about 100 members of his club use UAVs. But he said the number of drone users in Ho Chi Minh City is actually much higher. 
Many UAVs are affordable and cost only VND5-7 million ($226-317) even though some may cost up to VND100 million (US$4,500). 

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