If you are concerned about a drone that is flying over your business or home address, or have doubts whether the drone is operating legally according to Australian Drone Laws, you may wish to report a drone. Here are your options.
Just because you think someone may be operating a drone illegally, this is not always the case. Before making an unnecessary complaint your first step should be to locate the person operating the drone. One of the main rules of operating a drone, for recreational or commercial use, is for the drone operator to have “line of sight”. If you strongly believe the drone operator can not see the drone with their own eyes, chances are they are indeed controlling the drone illegally. If you can locate them, simply go up to the drone operator and ask them what they are doing and if they are flying the drone for commercial or recreational purposes.
Commercial Drone Flight
If they respond they are performing a commercial drone flight, simply ask if they hold a CASA UAV Operators Certificate UOC) (pre 2016) or an RPA Operator’s Certificate (ReOC) (from 2017 onwards).
If they reply they are performing a commercial drone flight, but don’t hold one of the above certificates, THEY ARE FLYING THE DRONE ILLEGALLY and should be reported to CASA. See below on how to make an official report.
If they reply they are performing a commercial drone flight, and DO hold one of the above certificates, you can confirm they are telling the truth very easily. Simple visit CASA’s UAS Certificate Holders website, and search for their “Holder’s Name” in the list. You can even do this on your phone while you are standing with them, if you think it’s safe enough to do so.
If you can’t find the drone operators or they don’t appear in the CASA UAS Certificate Holders list or you still feel what they are doing is unsafe or illegal, you should make an official report to the CASA RPAS office.
Residential Drone Flight
If someone is operating a drone “for fun” in a residential area, they must adhere to the CASA Recreational Drone Rules.
CASA Recreational Drone Rules
Drones can only be flown during “daylight” hours. That exactly means between when the sun has risen and once the sun has set. If you see someone flying a drone at the beach, and the sun sets below the horizon, they are at breach at that point.
The drone operator must have “line of sight” AT ALL TIMES. This means, if you can see the person flying the drone, but you know they can’t see the drone, then they are operating it illegally.
No drone, no matter what, can fly above 120 metres into the air. That’s around 20 stories high, compared to a city building. If you can talk to the drone operator and you believe they are higher than 120 metres, perhaps ask them how high they are flying. Their display should certainly tell them. If they are above 120 metres, they are operating illegally.
A drone can not fly over a populous area. What is a populous area? This is an area where, if the drone was to fall, it could hit someone. If single people are scattered over an oval, for example, or scattered down a beach, this is probably not a populous area. But if there is a sports match on, or a music festival, or the beach is packed, this would certainly be a populous area. In this case, the drone operator is acting illegally.
No drone can take off, fly or land within 30 metres of other people.
No drone can be flown within 5.5km of an airport.
A drone can not record or photograph people without their consent.
Report A Drone
If after reading all of the above, you feel that you need to make a formal complaint against a drone operator, you should take a photo of the operator, a photo of the drone in the sky (if you can) and most importantly, a photo of the drone operators vehicle and license plate. After you have done all this, make an official report to the CASA RPAS office.