Red tape has just been slashed by the Australian Government with amendments to the Civil Aviation Legislation signed off by the Governor General last week paving the way for smaller operators to conduct commercial work with their drones in Australia.
Right now, if you own a drone and want to take photos for commercial use, let’s say real estate or to sell your own photos or video – you needed a complex and costly licence before you could do so.
The legislative amendment approved last week allows for operators of drones under 2kg to conduct commercial work with their drone without the need for an “Unmanned Aircraft Operators Certificate” which has been costing anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 for users.
While the amendment has been passed, it does have a six month implementation period – so don’t go out flying your drone for profit today. You’ll have to wait until 29 September for the process to be in place.
That six months allows CASA the time to educate the public and operators on the changes and the new process.
The process though is very simple. You’ll need to as always abide by the standard flight rules which are not to fly within 5.5km of an airport, not above 120meters, not within 30meters of buildings, railways or vehicles, and always have visual line of sight of the drone.
In addition to that, any operator wanting to conduct commercial work will need to fill in a form with CASA on their website to register their operator details and aircraft details.
The form has not yet been build, but expect it to be a pretty simple process. EFTM has recommended to CASA that it also include a checklist or quiz for operators to confirm they understand the standard “RPA” rules. We’ll see.
These changes are a big win for budding photographers, who will now be able to use their photos and videos in commercial applications.
CASA’s Director of Aviation Safety, Mark Skidmore, said the changes to the remotely piloted aircraft regulations maintain appropriate safety standards while cutting red tape.
“While safety must always come first, CASA’s aim is to lighten the regulatory requirements where we can,” Mr Skidmore said.
“The amended regulations recognise the different safety risks posed by different types of remotely piloted aircraft.
“People intending to utilise the new very small category of commercial operations should understand this can only be done if the standard operating conditions are strictly followed and CASA is notified.
“Penalties can apply if these conditions are not met.”
Notifications to CASA will not be required for each flight, instead each operator will need to register once, allowing CASA to have a database of registered operators.
Interestingly, the amendment also has provision for CASA to approve autonomous flights on a case-by-case basis which could be a big win for larger commercial trial operators in remote and rural Australia looking to do long distance flights over large properties.
CASA also notes in their release that “The package of changes made to the regulations covering remotely piloted aircraft also permits private landholders to carry out a range of activities on their own land without the need for approvals from CASA”, so these changes are certainly a big win for rural Australia.