The regulations set down by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) for Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) being flown for commercial purposes will change as of the 29th September, 2016. These changes to Drone Laws will introduce a new category known as Excluded RPA.
Excluded RPA’s must weigh less than two kilograms take off weight. The take off weight includes camera and battery. An Operators Certificate (ReOC) or Remote Pilot Licence (RePL) will not be required when flying an Excluded RPA.
FLYING WITH SAFETY
Regardless of whether you are flying an RPA for a commercial purpose or not, it is everyone’s responsibility to fly with safety and in accordance with CASA’s regulations. RPA’s can and do fail for a variety of reasons. When this happens, the risk of significant injury to persons or damage to property is very high.
Operators of Excluded RPA’s should consider having 3rd party insurance, in the event that something does go wrong.
CASA have created an app for your smart phone or tablet that will tell you whether you can fly where you are. It is well worthwhile downloading this app.
Under these new laws any person who intends on using an Excluded RPA for commercial purposes must register their details with CASA. This will involve obtaining an Aviation Reference Number (ARN) from CASA. You must then notify CASA of your intention to fly commercially five days before you commence to do so. This notification will last for a period of two years. You will then need to notify CASA again if you are still operating in a commercial capacity.
STANDARD OPERATING CONDITIONS
All persons who fly an Excluded RPA for commercial purposes, or anyone who operates a drone, must operate within the following Standard Operating Conditions:-
- Visual Line of Sight only
- No higher than 120 metres (400 feet) above ground level
- Not over a populous area
- Not during Daytime only
- No closer than 30 metres to people not involved in the flight
- Not within 5.5 kilometres of a controlled aerodrome
- Not in an area where a Public Safety Operation is occurring. eg Bushfire or other emergency situation.
- Non Instrument Helicopter landing sites now have a No Fly Zone of 1000 metres(500m radius). These include rescue helicopter bases and hospital landing zones.
- Instrument Approach Helicopter sites now have a 5.5 kilometre Exclusion Zone.
A new condition included in the regulations provides for Aircraft Identification. All Excluded RPA’s must carry identification which includes the operator’s name and ARN.
CASA has also recommended that all remote pilots undergo training to learn how to fly their RPA safely. CASA considers that five hours flight time is the minimum amount of time needed to gain a basic level of competence. Observers and ground crew should also have some level of training. The pilot and the observer should discuss what they will do in an emergency situation before each flight.
HOLDERS OF CURRENT OPERATORS CERTIFICATES
The following additional privileges will be given to current RePL holders:-
- authorisation allowing operation of an RPA over 2kg
- permission to operate closer than 30 metres, but no less than 15 metres, from a person
- night time flying (with night rating)
- the ability to apply for exemptions to the regulations e.g. beyond-visual-line-of-sight
- the ability to apply for a range of different additional approvals.
- operation in controlled areas subject to new guidance.
I have touched only very briefly on the new requirements. But I think that it is important that everyone is aware of their responsibilities when operating an RPA, even if it is just as a hobby.
As always, if you would like to know more or have a question please contact us.