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Laws About Drones In Australia

Laws about Drones in Australia

Laws on flying drones in Australia might be upgraded soon.

CASA’s latest round of seeking information from drone flyers was recently completed (February 2019). With this initiative, they hope to gain a better picture of both leisure and commercial drone flying around the country.

Drone Laws in Australia expected to Change

The resulting regulation might be implemented during the latter half of 2019. Much in line with what is happening in the rest of the world, it is expected that the following changes might be part of the outcome:

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  • A registration system whereby drones weighing more than 250g and used for leisure flying, as well as all commercial drones, must be registered via a online system. CASA’s intention is to make the registration system simple, quick and easy to use. The type of drone, weight and intended use will form part of the registration. Such registrations will expire annually.
  • Leisure drone flyers flying drones of more than 250g will have to watch a video and apply for accreditation, if they are not already holders of a RePL.
  • Drone flyers will have to be older than 16 to register a drone, and drone flyers in the 16-18 age bracket will have to be supervised by an accredited person. Confusion still exists about how the registrar of a drone will be linked to the pilot.
  • Stiff action against people who transgress the rules are proposed. Penalties of up to AU$10,500 might be imposed!

Although it looks if some new laws will be added, it is not expected that the existing regulation set will change much. The current laws that apply when you fly your drone, UAV or RPAS for leisure and commercial applications in Australia are in a nutshell:

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  1. When to fly: Flying is permitted during daytime only. The drone should be kept within visual line-of-sight, which means you must be able to see the drone with your own eyes and not through a device (e.g. digital screen).
  2. Height: Drones are to be flown below 120m (400′). To help you estimate, the height of a large antenna mast could be 40m, big bluegum trees could be 30-40m, and one story of a multistory building is often approximately 3m – 3.5m.
  3. Spectators: The drone may not be flown closer than 30m from people, or over gatherings of people e.g. beaches or sports events. This item is more aimed towards safety than privacy considerations.
  4. Areas of Public Safety: You may not fly your drone over areas affecting public safety, e.g. a crash site or a bush fire.
  5. Number of drones: You may only fly one drone at a time.
  6. Aerodromes: Not closer than 5.5km from aerodromes or helicopter landing sites that are being used. At times where the airport is not being used, you may well fly, keeping a good lookout for and avoiding any approaching aircraft in the same airspace.
  7. Privacy: You are to respect the safety and privacy of people at all times when operating your drone. It is expected that further definition might be given to what an invasion of privacy by drone entails.

Generally these intended upgrades of the Australian drone law network is much in line with what is happening in other countries (click to view our discussion of forthcoming upgrades to the drone laws in the UK). It can be expected that further changes might follow gradually as the industry matures.

We’d love to hear your thoughts, ideas and suggestions. Drop us a comment below!

Happy hovering, Arie

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