Overview of drone laws in Australia

In Australia, Government is no longer using term UAV to describe drones. Now, they are using term RPA (Remotely Piloted Aircraft) in all official documents. That means, old (and now outdated) UAV Certificates will be replaced by the RePL (Remote Pilot Licence).

Regulations for small RPAs (under 2kg)

The Federal Government has recently changed some legalisation details about RPAs. Now, person is allowed to operate very small RPA( all RPAs under 2kg) without any certification. If it’s normally operated in standard RPA conditions these drones will be knows as an excluded aircrafts.

Here are rules to follow to stay into “standard RPA operating conditions”, which means you don’t need any kind of certification to fly your drone (if it’s under 2kg).

  • drone must be on visual line of sight of its pilot, all the time
  • flight height (altitude) must be below 400 ft AGL
  • drone flights are allowed only during day
  • you must keep your drone more than 30 meters away from anyonw who isn’t directly associated with the operation of drone

As you can see, most of rules are “natural”. I’d also like to add one tip : be careful with your drone when it’s windy outside. You could easily lose control over it which can finish as a crash. Most drones don’t survive crashes, which can result in big money loss plus potential damage on the ground.

Besides that, there are few restrictions you should be aware of.

Drone my NOT be operated :

  • over a metropolitan areas
  • withing 3 miles of the aerodrome
  • in a prohibited area
  • in areas that are classified as RA3
  • over an area where a fire, police or other public safety or emergency operations is being conducted

Last sentence is potentially controversial, you probably heard about some similar cases during last fire season here in Australia. Many drone pilots were using their drones to record fire and firefighter operations. Firefighters clams that drones interfere with their duties. Police even arrested 1 drone operator, he ended up paying $200 fine. Luckily, no one get hurted during that “dangerous” drone operations. In my opinion, operating a drone over a fire isn’t that dangerous at all, it can even be effective and helpful in some cases.

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