Drone Laws in Australia: Are you flying your UAV / RPA legally?

NEW laws in Australia from 29th September 2016.

Contact us to find out if you will be able to fly legally without any official training. The new ‘sub 2kg’ rules will make it easier for some, but not all (like real estate photography will not be easy in capital cities and towns.) The restrictions are detailed here. Call us on (02) 4203 3007 if you have any further questions.

Scroll down for a comprehensive summary of the new CASA laws

The UAV Controller’s Certificate has been replaced by the Remote Pilot Licence (RePL). For full details of the changes see https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2016L00400.

Contact Us: Please complete the form below for further information or call us on +61 2 4203 3007

Please only click the Submit button once!


Hobbyist/Non-commercial Flight

From 25th September 2016 the term UAV will generally be replaced with RPA (Remotely Piloted Aircraft) in official documents and the UAV Controller’s Certificate will be replaced by the Remote Pilot Licence (RePL). For full details of the changes see https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2016L00400.

Very Small RPAs (under 2 kg) – Regulations effective 29th September 2016

The Federal Government has recently passed legislation which will allow a person to operate a very small RPA (that is, one weighing less than 2 kg) without certification, if it is being operated in standard RPA operating conditions. This will be known as an excluded aircraft.

Standard RPA operating conditions means that the RPA must be operated:

  • within visual line of sight
  • below 400 ft AGL
  • during the day
  • more than 30 m away from anyone who is not directly associated with the operation (people being filmed are not considered to be directly associated with the RPA’s operation)

It may NOT be operated:

  • over a populous area
  • within 3 nautical miles of the movement area of a controlled aerodrome
  • in a prohibited area
  • in a restricted area that is classified as RA3
  • in a restricted area that is classified as RA2 or RA1 otherwise than in accordance with regulation 101.065
  • over an area where a fire, police or other public safety or emergency operation is being conducted without the approval of a person in charge of the operation

As of today, 29 September 2016 it is now legal to fly certain – no any, Drone for commercial gain WITHOUT certification. Download our Android and iOS apps to get a better understanding of the areas that are restricted for hobby flying too.

What does this translate to? Real Estate photographers will usually NOT be able to conform with ALL these conditions and will therefore require a UAV Operator Certificate (UOC) which is the CASA certificate to operate legally.

If you are not making any commercial gain from your flying, then you may fly your UAV without requiring certification (please note however that “commercial gain” can include flights for advertising purposes or even uploading videos to YouTube – there does not have to be a direct payment involved).  The following restrictions apply for uncertified flying:

  • Below 400 ft (120 m)
  • In uncontrolled (Class G) airspace
  • More than 3 nm (5.5 km) from an aerodrome or helipad listed on the VTC
  • More than 30 m away from other people
  • Not in a Populous Area
  • Within Visual Line of Sight (VLOS) – this means no FPV unless you have a spotter who can take control at any time

Commercial Flight

Any flights for commercial gain require certification of both the pilot (or UAV Controller) flying the actual drone, and the business which is conducting the operation. The pilot must have a UAV Controller’s Certificate (formerly called Remote Pilot Certificate)  and the business must have a UAV Operator’s Certificate (or UOC).

From 25th September 2016 the term UAV will generally be replaced with RPA in official documents and the UAV Controller’s Certificate will be replaced by the Remote Pilot Licence. For full details of the changes see https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2016L00400.

We have courses scheduled in most state capitals once or twice a month.

We are CASA Certified (CASA.UOC.0046) to deliver RPAS Training that will give you your Remote Pilot Certificate.

Call us on 1300 RPAS TRAINING (1300 772 787) or +61 2 4203 3007

Want to know where it is ‘legal’ to fly in Australia as long as you follow all other rules?

We created an app to show you most (if not all) of the Helicopter Landing Sites, Seaplane locations, airstrips etc. It is free and called Drone Complier Personal (formerly RPAS Logger).

You can download Android here or iOS here.

CASR 101

Please note the official terms used to refer to a ‘Drone’ or a ‘UAV’ by CASA – The Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority is RPA which stands for Remotely Piloted Aircraft (indicating that there is still a human controlling the actions of the aircraft) RPAS = Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems.

We have created a “Dummies guide to CASA CASR Part 101″ below.

Civil Aviation Safety Regulation part 101 (CASR 101) consolidates all the rules applicable to Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) into one body of legislation. Australia was the first nation in the world in the year 2000 to start drafting such laws in the anticipation of civil UAV operations. As a result, CASR 101 was sighted as a guide for many other authorities such as ICAO, the FAA and EASA as they drafted UAV legislation.

Lawmakers could not have anticipated the rapid and innovative advances in UAV technology since the implementation of CASR 101 in October 2001. Civil UAVs are becoming evermore lightweight, automated and readily available to the public. As a result, parts of CASR 101 in its current form are becoming outdated and irrelevant.

The International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO) and its member states (including Australia) are currently in the process of writing new, internationally recognised legislation, based on the framework of current UAV laws written by Australia, the European Union and the United States. Member states then take this protocol and pass domestic laws consistent with the international standards. Since the ICAO manual on Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS, formerly UAVs) is based heavily around CASR 101, changes to Australian laws are expected to be minimal. The changes expected to be made however, will update CASR 101, applicable and relevant to RPAS technology that exists today.

CASR 101 also contains guidelines for fireworks displays and unmanned balloon flights. Such information is peripheral to the scope UAV operations.

Key proposals for the updating of CASR 101 include:

– Weight classification of UAVs as Large, Small and Micro

– CASA approval for all unmanned flights reaching a height of over 400ft above ground level (AGL)

The following are summaries of the sections of CASR 101 applicable to UAV Operations

Subpart A: Preliminary

  • CASR 101 does not apply to control line aircraft or RPAS operating indoors
  • A Populous Area is defined as an area with sufficient density that an unreasonable risk of death, injury or property damage would be presented by any aspect of RPAS operations

Subpart B: Prohibition of Unsafe Operation

  • An  RPA must not be operated in a way that poses a hazard to another aircraft, person or property
  • It is not a defence to contravening the prior, that the aircraft was operated within the guidelines of its operations manual

Subpart C: General Provisions Applicable to Unmanned Aircraft

  • A UAV must not be flown over a Restricted or Prohibited area without written approval from the relevant authority
  • A person must apply for an area approval from CASA to be permitted to operate a UAV above 400ft or less than 3 nautical miles from an airfield
  • When operating in controlled airspace, a person must have area approval and comply to all air traffic control instructions
  • Operating a UAV near a runway, movement area, approach or departure path is prohibited unless exceptional grounds for an approval present
  • A UAV may be operated under 400ft without an area approval given they meet all other CASA requirements
  • A UAV must not drop or discharge an object that poses a risk to another aircraft, persons or property
  • UAVs must only be operated in Visual Meteorological Conditions unless prior approval and training is sought
  • UAVs must only be operated at night once prior approval and training is sought

Subpart F1: Introduction to UAVs

  • A Small UAV is defined as an unmanned aircraft of mass greater than 1 kilogram yet less than 150 kilograms (fixed wing) or 100 kilograms (rotary wing)
  • A Large UAV is defined as an unmanned aircraft of mass greater than 150 kilograms (fixed wing) or 100 kilograms (rotary wing)
  • A person must seek CASA approval for the operation of a Large UAV

Subpart F2: General Operations of UAVs

  • A UAV must not be operated within 30 meters of a person not directly associated with the operation of that UAV
  • A person or company may only operate a UAV for hire or reward if they hold a UAV Operators Certificate

Subpart F3: Certification of UAV controllers

  • A person may only operate in controlled airspace if they hold an Aircraft Radio Operators Certificate of Proficiency (AROCoP)
  • To pilot an RPA in a commercial operation, a person must hold an RPA Controller’s Certificate
  • A RPA Controller’s Certificate may be revoked at any time

Subpart F4: Certification of UAV operators

  • A person may apply to CASA in writing for approval for a RPAS Operator’s Certificate
  • This person or company must fulfill a list of requirements in order to be approved
  • A certified operator must abide by all CASA guidelines or risk having their approval revoked
  • If an operator owns more than one RPA, a chief controller and maintenance manager must be appointed
  • An operator may be issued with a notice to show cause if they violate CASA guidelines
  • An RPAS operator’s certificate may be cancelled if the response of the holder to a notice to show cause is unsatisfactory

Below is a summary of the full CASR Part 101 broken up into the relevant sections.

Part 101—Unmanned aircraft and rockets

Subpart 101.A—Preliminary

101.005 Applicability of this Part

101.010 Application to rocket‑powered unmanned aircraft

101.015 Application of registration and marking requirements

101.020 Exemption from certain other provisions of CAR 1988

101.025 Meaning of populous area

101.030 Approval of areas for operation of unmanned aircraft or rockets

101.035 Requirements in this Part to give information to CASA

Subpart 101.B—General prohibition on unsafe operation

101.050 Applicability of this Subpart

101.055 Hazardous operation prohibited

Subpart 101.C—Provisions applicable to unmanned aircraft generally

101.060 Applicability of this Subpart

101.065 Operation in prohibited or restricted area

101.070 Operation in controlled airspace

101.075 Operation near aerodromes

101.080 Permission for operation of unmanned aircraft near aerodrome

101.085 Maximum operating height

101.090 Dropping or discharging of things

101.095 Weather and day limitations

Subpart 101.D—Tethered balloons and kites

101.100 Applicability of this Subpart

101.105 Definitions for Subpart

101.110 Tethered balloons and kites that may be operated outside approved areas

101.115 Mooring‑line marking

101.120 Operation of tethered balloon or kite under cloud

101.125 Tethered balloon to be lit at night

101.130 Rapid deflation device required

101.135 What to do if tethered balloon escapes

Subpart 101.E—Unmanned free balloons

101.140 Applicability of this Subpart

101.145 Definitions for Subpart—free balloons

101.150 Definition for Subpart—approved area

101.155 Releasing small balloons

101.160 Light balloons that may be released outside approved areas

101.165 Release of medium and heavy balloons outside approved areas

101.170 Medium and heavy balloons not to be flown low

101.175 Medium and heavy balloons to be flown in clear sky

101.180 How payload must be supported—medium and heavy balloons

101.185 Equipment that must be carried—medium and heavy balloons

101.190 Lighting—medium and heavy balloons

101.195 Marking—free balloons generally

101.200 Marking by day—heavy balloons

101.205 Lighting by night—heavy balloons

101.210 Obligation to stay in communication with ATC—medium and heavy balloons

101.215 Tracking of flight—medium and heavy balloons

101.220 Flight reporting—medium and heavy balloons

101.225 Ending flight and recovery—medium and heavy balloons

101.230 Direction by ATC to end flight in certain circumstances

Subpart 101.F—UAVs

Division 101.F.1—General

101.235 Applicability of this Subpart

101.240 Definitions for Subpart

Division 101.F.2—Operation of UAVs generally

101.245 Operation near people

101.250 Where small UAVs may be operated

101.255 Large UAVs—requirement for certificate

101.260 Maintenance of large UAVs

101.265 Application of s 20AB of the Act to large UAVs

101.270 Requirement for UAV operator’s certificate

101.275 Approval of operation of large UAVs

101.280 UAVs not to be operated over populous areas

101.285 Use of radiotelephone

Division 101.F.3—Certification of UAV controllers

101.290 Application for certification as UAV controller

101.295 Eligibility for certification as UAV controller

101.300 Conditions on certification as UAV controller

101.315 Notice to certified UAV controller to show cause

101.320 Cancellation of UAV controller’s certification

Division 101.F.4—Certification of UAV operators

101.330 Application for certification as UAV operator

101.335 Eligibility for certification as UAV operator

101.340 Conditions on certification

101.360 Notice to certified UAV operator to show cause

101.365 Cancellation of UAV operator’s certification

Subpart 101.G—Model aircraft

101.375 Applicability of this Subpart

101.380 Definitions for Subpart

101.385 Visibility for operation of model aircraft

101.390 Operating model aircraft at night

101.395 Keeping model aircraft away from people

101.400 Operation of model aircraft outside approved areas

101.405 Giant model aircraft

101.410 Model flying displays

Subpart 101.H—Rockets

101.415 Applicability of this Subpart

101.420 Application of State and Territory laws about rockets

101.425 Definitions for Subpart

101.430 Launching rocket in or over prohibited or restricted area

101.435 Launching rockets into controlled airspace

101.440 Launching rockets near aerodromes

101.445 Getting permission for launch of rocket near aerodrome

101.450 High power rockets

101.455 Maximum operating height of rockets

101.460 Dropping or discharging of things from rockets

101.465 Weather and day limitations—rockets other than model rockets

101.470 Model rockets

Subpart 101.I—Firework displays

101.475 What this Subpart does

101.480 Application of State and Territory laws about fireworks

101.485 Meaning of operate a firework display

101.490 Certain projectiles prohibited in firework displays

101.495 Firework displays not permitted near aerodromes

101.500 Notice to CASA of certain firework displays

Call us on 1300 RPAS TRAINING (1300 772 787) / 02 4203 3007 or complete the contact form on the right of this page (or below on mobile devices) to find out how we can provide you with a full 1-stop-shop solution from individual Remote Pilot training (UAV Controller Certificates, Remote Pilot Licence, CERT III (Remote Pilot)) to overall company UOC Manual Development & training around Ops-, Flight- and Maintenance Manuals for CASA Certification or RPAS Consulting for your specific requirements.

WE DO NOT COMPETE AGAINST OUR CLIENTS !!! Ask some of the other ‘training providers’ if they also offer aerial photography services / surveying etc and they will mostly say YES which means YOU will go and train with them and share your business plans and potential contacts with them and they can then take it and compete against you even BEFORE you have your certification. BEWARE! As far as we know we are the ONLY company to GUARANTEE that we will NOT offer services that compete against our clients.

We have delivered courses in Sydney, Perth, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, Darwin, Hobart, Toowoomba, Townsville, Cairns, Kiama, Chatswood, Bankstown, North Sydney, Armidale and many more.