Australian Drone Regulations: Registration, Certification, and Restrictions


Credit: Australian Government Civil Aviation Safety Authority


For pilots in Australia, the government entity responsible for regulating aviation is the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA). Through their website, pilots can easily access and stay updated on important information regarding Australia’s drone policies. On the homepage, drones are listed under Aircraft and on the sidebar with links to other aviation-related information. CASA’s drone webpage has information for pilots who fly for fun and for business. A prominent feature on CASA’s drone webpage is their Know Your Drone campaign, a campaign dedicated to national drone safety education. Know Your Drone was created to promote national drone safety rules and provides essential information regarding regulations for recreational fliers. The page hosts guides on Australia’s new rules for drone registration and pilot accreditation, current drone rules, safety apps, and tips for buying a drone. Commercial fliers can find the information they need on the main drone page.


Credit: Australian Government Civil Aviation Safety Authority


Registration


For recreational fliers, new rules regarding registration and accreditation will go into effect in March 2022 and will be required by May 30th, 2022. According to these new rules, pilots who fly for fun will need to register their drone before flying if it weighs more than 250 grams. Registration can be completed online through the myCASA portal and will last for 12 months before you have to reregister. As of this article’s writing, the cost of registration and potential fees for recreational fliers has yet to be determined and will be decided following a “period of public consultation”.


To register your drone, you will need:

  • To be at least 16 years old

  • A myCASA account

  • Proof of identification (e.g., an Australian passport, Australian birth certificate, Australian citizenship certificate, foreign passport, or ImmiCard)

  • An aviation reference number* (ARN)

  • The make, model, serial number, weight, and type of drone you’re registering

*Note: An ARN is the unique ID number that CASA will use to identify you each time you communicate with them. You can apply for one online via your myCASA account.


Credit: Australian Government Civil Aviation Safety Authority


As a recreational flier, you won’t need to register your drone if (1) you fly exclusively indoors, (2) you don’t intend to fly at all, or (3) your drone weighs 250 grams or less, and it’s not being flown for or at work.


For commercial fliers, there is a new rule regarding registration. As of January 28, 2021, drone registration and operator accreditation are now required for drones flown for business purposes regardless of their weight. If you’re flying your drone to provide any type of service (e.g., selling photos or videos, inspecting sites or equipment, surveillance, research, etc.), you must register your drone before flying. After registering, you can download/print your certificate from myCASA. Registration is free and valid for 12 months. If you are found to be flying an unregistered drone, you can be fined up to $11,100. More registration information can be found here.


Certification (Accreditation)


If you’re flying for fun, you don't need to do anything today. Accreditation for recreational fliers will open in March 2022 and will be required by 30 May 2022. These new rules require pilots flying a drone weighing more than 250 grams to get accredited as proof that they understand the drone safety rules.


The accreditation process will consist of watching a short video then completing a quiz to test your knowledge. You will be able to complete it online through the myCASA portal. Accreditation will be free and last for three years, and accredited pilots can supervise children younger than 16 (who must be supervised by an accredited adult who is at least 18 years old). Pilots will automatically have access to their accreditation certificate after they pass the quiz and will be able to download and print it through myCASA. Don’t worry about failing! You’ll have unlimited attempts to pass.


Similar to registration, to get accredited, you will need:

  • To be at least 16 years old

  • A myCASA account

  • Proof of identification

  • An aviation reference number (ARN)


CASA requires pilots to obtain a remote pilot licence (RePL) if they want to fly for commercial purposes or outside of the drone rules. Pilots who wish to fly for these purposes must also apply for a remotely piloted aircraft operator's certificate (ReOC) or be employed by an existing ReOC holder as a remote pilot. RePLs do not expire, and there is no minimum age requirement to obtain one.


To obtain a remote pilot licence, CASA lists four steps:

  1. Apply for an ARN

  2. Complete the required training through a certified training provider

  3. Download your digital license

  4. Register your drone

Credit: Australian Government Civil Aviation Safety Authority


Restrictions


CASA has created an easy to follow video on their drone rules for recreational drone operators. This video and the rules are available on YouTube and the Know Your Drone webpage. You can also download the rules as an infographic PDF file.


Credit: CASABriefing


The rules include but are not limited to the following:


  • Do not fly your drone higher than 120 meters (400 feet) above ground level or beyond your visual line of sight.

  • Do not fly over or above people, and keep your drone at least 30 meters away from them.

  • Do not operate your drone in a way that creates a hazard to another aircraft, person, or property.

  • Do not operate over or near an area affecting public safety or emergency operations such as a car crash or fire.

  • Respect people’s privacy, meaning no photographing or recording others without their consent.

  • Only fly one drone at a time and during the day, but do not pass through clouds or fog.

  • Operators flying drones weighing more than 250 grams must fly at least 5.5 kilometers away from a controlled airport.

  • Operators can fly their drone within 5.5 kilometers of a helicopter landing site or a smaller aerodrome without a control tower. However, they must land as quickly and safely as possible should they become aware of manned aircraft nearby.


To find safe places where you can fly, download one of the CASA-verified drone safety apps for custom location-based information. These apps will have maps of where you can and can’t fly per aviation legislation, but you will still need to check the local rules and regulations from your local and state government before you fly.



Tyesha Ferron is a writer and an artist based in Atlanta, Georgia. Specializing in digital art, Tyesha loves exploring the new ways technology intersects with culture and how drones make things more efficient and accessible for artists, hobbyists, and industry professionals. As a novice drone enthusiast, she continues to be impressed by what the drone community and industry can accomplish.


Instagram: @tyesha.ferron

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