In Japan, mini-drones weighing less than 200 grams have less strict rules than “normal” drones. But the Japanese government is going to reduce that lower limit to only 100 grams, now that more capable drones weighing just under 200 grams are appearing on the market, including a special version of the DJI Mavic Mini. That reports the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun.
Japan wants stricter rules for mini-drones
Japanese rules for drones
Flying with drones is regulated in Japan by the aviation law. Since 2015, drone pilots who wish to fly with drones above crowds, near buildings, during night hours, or beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) must first apply for a permit.
Until now, mini-drones weighing less than 200 grams have been exempted from these rules, apart from the ban on flying over crowds higher than 150 meters or near airports. The idea was that such small and light drones would mainly be used indoors, and would not easily pose a danger when used outdoors.
Lower limit of 100 grams makes it harder to qualify as mini-drone
But now that more capable mini-drones, weighing less than 200 grams are appearing on the market, that combine a long flight time with a long-range, and that can fly stably even in relatively high winds, the Japanese government wants to adjust the legislation and set the new lower limit set to 100 grams.
The tightening of the legislation is bad news for DJI, among others, which has developed a lighter version of the first generation Mavic Mini especially for the Japanese market. By giving this mini-drone a slightly smaller battery, the take-off weight remained just under 200 grams. This resulted in a great sales success on the Japanese market.
In the new situation, the Japanese version of the Mavic Mini would be seen as a full-fledged drone, to which stricter rules apply.
Registration, certification, and permits
Another measure taken by the Japanese government is the introduction of a new registration system for drone pilots. From 2022, all Japanese drone pilots must register, including address details. Japan also wants to introduce a certification system for drones, in addition to new forms of permits for operators.
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