Flying a drone is very exciting but we must understand the risks associated with it. The authorities all around the globe are working hard to make drone rules and regulations and educate people about it. However, the technology is moving at a very rapid pace and as a drone pilot, it is our responsibility to understand the regulations and follow them.
Australia is the first country which made drone rules and regulations. Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) is the regulatory body in Australia. The technical name of drones is now “Remotely Operated Aircraft Systems (RPAS)”. One should visit CASA website for a complete information or contact them. However, few important things are listed below:
1. Weight Classes:
Drones are classified according their weight as “micro (100 gm or less)”, “very small (more than 100gm and less than 2 kg)”, small (at least 2kg and less than 25kg), medium (at least 25kg and less than or equal to 150kg) and large (greater than 150 kg). All weights are gross weights (including all photography or other equipment etc).
2. The Purpose of flying drones:
The next thing one should consider is what is the purpose of flying drone? Whether it is a hobby or commercial. This is important because some of the drone rules depend on it. There are certain conditions related to the purpose and the weight in conjunction. For example, If your drone falls in micro category, you can fly it anywhere because it is called excluded RPA. If your drone is very small, it will also be excluded RPA if you are flying it for recreational or sports purpose. However, if this small RPA is used for commercial purpose, then you must follow certain so-called Standard Operating Conditions (SOC).
3. Standard Operating Conditions (SOC):
This is a set of some must and must not operating conditions:
3.a Must conditions:
You must operate your drone:
1. Within your visual line of sight (withing using any aid such as binoculars etc)
2. Below 400 feet (120 meters) above ground level.
3. During the day in visual meteorological conditions (when street light normally turn on)
4. Only one RPA at a time.
3.b Must not conditions:
You must not operate the drone:
1. In a way that is hazardous to another aircraft, another person or property
2. Within 30 m of a person who is not directly associated with the operation. (People being filmed or NOT considered to be directly associated), so if you are filming a wedding, don’t think all the guest and other people are directly associated with flight and don’t go nearer than 30 m to them.
3. Over a populous area.
4. Within 3 nautical miles of movement area of a controlled aerodrome.
5. In a prohibited area.
6. In a restricted are which is classified as RA3.
7. In a restricted area that is classified as RA2 or RA1 otherwise than in accordance with regulation 101.065 (in Australia)
8. Over an area where fire, police or other emergency operation is being conducted without the approval of the person in charge of the operation.
9. At night or in cloud
10. And drop anything in a way that may cause any hazard to another aircraft, a person or property.
Because manned aircraft can not see you, therefore It is also the responsibility of the RPA operator to avoid them. If there is a chance of collision, then the drone operator must dispose off the drone and just dump it to the ground. This drone if collides with a rudder of a helicopter can cause it to crash. So in some situation, we must dispose the drone. Usually, this function is available on drone.
So general safe fly rule would be not to cause a hazard to any other aircraft, person or property and “see and avoid”, don’t go near, don’t go higher than 400 feet and fly in day time only.
As a drone pilot, we must also keep in mind that local laws also apply to drone operations, we cant just go to Sydney CBD and start flying drones and taking pictures. We must contact council and see what are their requirements and procedures. So if we keep all these safety measures in place then flying drone is really amazing.
When a license would be required:
In Australia you need CASA certification if you want to fly a RPA commercially and the RPA is not in the excluded RPA category. You must get a Remote pilot license (RePL) as an individual and RPA operator’s certificate (ReOC) if you want to run a business.