CASA is the governing body over drone rules in Australia.
We provide an easy to read, up to date, version of the information on this page. However, if you want to read the fine details yourself, be sure to head over to CASA.GOV.AU
Australia’s Drone laws depend on whether you’re flying for fun (recreationally) or for money (commercially).
If you are flying a drone for money, is your drone under 2kg or over 2kg in weight? The weight of a commercial drone is very important in determining which CASA rules you have to follow.
Commercial Drone Under 2kg
Effective 29 September 2016, the new category of excluded RPA (remotely piloted aircraft) came into effect, with reduced regulatory requirements to fly very small RPAs commercially. Operations under 2kg (excluded) will not need an RPA operator’s certificate (ReOC), or a remote pilot licence (RePL).
Although you don’t need a ReOC or RePL, you still have to notify CASA at least five business days before your first commercial flight and agree to operate by the standard operating conditions and the guidance in CASA’s advisory circular (AC) 101-10.
Here are the steps involved to be able to fly a commercial drone that weights under 2kg:
1. Notify CASA five business days before flying
You can notify CASA via the online notification form.
To notify CASA, you will need an aviation reference number (ARN).
If you do not already have an ARN, you will need to apply for an ARN.
Please note the ARN application can take up to five working days.
When completing the online notification form, use the + button to select up to 50 locations and 5 RPA categories on the one notification form.
Your notification is only valid for 24 months, so you will need to re-notify CASA every two years. If your operating details change during the two year period (e.g. different location, RPA category), you will need to submit a new notification form to CASA.
2. Operate within the standard operation conditions
Ensure flights are conducted in alignment with all of the requirements of the Part 101 of the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations (as mentioned above).
3. Follow the simple rules
- You must only fly during the day and keep your RPA within visual line-of sight (VLOS) – close enough to see, maintain orientation and achieve accurate flight and tracking.
- This means being able to see the aircraft with your own eyes (rather than through first-person-view (FPV)) at all times.
- You must not fly your RPA higher than 120 metres (400ft) AGL.
- Referenced to a point on the ground immediately below the RPA at any time during the flight.
- You must only fly your RPA during the daytime only (not after sunset).
- You must keep your RPA at least 30 metres away from other people i.e. any person who is not charged with duties essential to the safe operation of a remotely piloted aircraft.
- You must keep your RPA away from prohibited/restricted areas.
- You must not fly your RPA over any area where, in the event of a loss of control or failure, you create an unreasonable hazard to the safety of people and property on the ground (populous area).
- You must keep your RPA at least 5.5km away from controlled aerodromes – one with an operating control tower.
- You must not fly your RPA over or near an area affecting public safety or where emergency operations are underway (without prior approval). This could include situations such as a traffic accident, police operations, a fire and associated firefighting efforts, and search and rescue.
Commercial Drone Over 2kg
If you want to fly a remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) commercially in Australia, and charge for your services, and your drone weights more than 2kg (this includes DJI Inspire and Phantom Drones!), then there is a lot of paperwork and hoops to jump through. Long story short, you need to be licensed and/or certified by CASA in this case and also do some preliminary training.
Step 1 – If you have no prior aviation knowledge, you will need to complete a course with an RPAS training provider, meaning ‘RePL Training’. This will give you your RePL Remote Pilot License .
Once you have your RePL, you may operate commercially with a ReOC (RPA Operator’s Certificate) holder (the guys who just gave you the drone training), or apply to get your own certificate, which is a long and expensive process with CASA.
All of the information you need for finding RPAS Training and obtaining your own ReOC (if you decide not to go under your trainer’s) can be found on the CASA WEBSITE.