The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) regulates the usage of all Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA’s). It has done so since legislation was amended in 2002. Even if you are only intending on flying as a hobby you must still abide by these regulations and ensure that at all times you are flying with safety.
As of 29th September, 2016 CASA will make changes to drone laws when flying an RPA for commercial purposes. Provided your drone weighs under 2 kilos take off weight you will not be required to hold a licence. If you intend on flying an RPA over that weight for commercial purposes you will be required to hold a Controllers Certificate and fly under the auspices of someone who holds an Operators Certificate.
There have already been a number of incidents where people have breached these regulations. Most recently an RPA crashed into a car in Melbourne causing extensive damage to both the RPA and the vehicle. The person in control of the RPA did not come forward to claim the RPA. The owner of the vehicle would have been left with an expensive repair bill. Whilst the owner of the drone lost an expensive piece of equipment.
There was also the case of a craft hitting a small child in the face in the UK when it crashed, causing permanent damage to the child’s eye and also an alleged incident of a drone hitting a woman runner in the head at a triathlon in Western Australia.
Do a quick Google search and you will come up with many more incidents both here in Australia and overseas.
As the popularity of these craft continues to rise, more incidents like the ones mentioned above will continue to occur. These are the types of incidents that we don’t want see to happen.
We would encourage anyone who is thinking of buying an RPA to find someone who is licenced to operate an RPA to teach them the basics of flying before they try and fly it for themselves.
We also strongly encourage everyone that flies an RPA of any description to make sure that they follow the regulations set down by CASA at all times.
FLYING WITH SAFETY
These are the regulations you must follow when flying an RPA:-
Operate in daylight only and in your line of sight.
If you can’t clearly see your craft it is to far away from you. You must not operate an RPA whilst wearing FPV goggles.
Stay 30 metres away from people, vehicles, boats and buildings.
You must maintain a distance of 30 metres from people not directly involved with the RPA operation and objects.
You must not fly over any populous area.
A populous area is defined in the regulations under CASR 101.025. If the aircraft failing would cause risk to the life, safety or property of anyone outside the operation then the flight would be over a populous area. This means flying over roads, houses and other people is all illegal under the populous area rule.
You must not fly higher than 120 metres (400 feet)
If you are in an area of controlled air space, which covers most Australian cities, you must not fly higher than 120 metres.
You cannot fly within 5.5 kilometres of an airfield or registered helipad.
It is illegal to fly near airports and registered helipads. Many major hospitals and rescue bases have registered helipads.
It is illegal to fly for money or economic gain.
It is illegal to operate an RPA for commercial purposes without an Operators Certificate issued by CASA. This rule does not apply if your craft weighs less than 2 kilos.
Adhere to all the above points and you should be able to enjoy your RPA whilst still flying with safety.