Drones have become an increasingly popular hobby in recent years. With the ability to take stunning aerial photographs and videos, it’s no wonder that more and more Australians are investing in drones.
However, with great power comes great responsibility, and as a drone owner, it’s important to be aware of the laws and regulations surrounding drone use in Australia.
In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at the drone laws in Australia, what you need to know before taking to the skies, and how to ensure you’re following the rules.
The basics of drone laws in Australia
First things first, let’s start with the basics. In Australia, drones are classified as “remotely piloted aircraft systems” or RPAS for short. RPAS are regulated by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) and the rules for flying them depend on the weight of the drone.
Drones weighing less than 250 grams are classified as “micro” drones and can be flown without a license or registration. However, they are still subject to the standard operating conditions set out by CASA, which we’ll discuss in more detail below.
Drones weighing between 250 grams and 2.0 kilograms are classified as “very small” drones and must be registered with CASA. You’ll also need to pass a basic knowledge test to fly a very small drone. This test can be completed online and covers topics such as air law, safety, and how to operate your drone.
Drones weighing more than 2.0 kilograms are classified as “small” drones and require a remote pilot license to operate. This license involves more extensive training and testing than the basic knowledge test for very small drones.
Where can you fly your drone?
When it comes to flying your drone in Australia, there are a few rules and restrictions you’ll need to be aware of. These rules are in place to ensure the safety of other people, property, and other aircraft.
Firstly, it’s important to note that drones must always be flown within visual line-of-sight (VLOS) of the operator. This means you should always be able to see your drone with your naked eye and never fly it beyond your line of sight.
You must also not fly your drone:
- Higher than 120 meters above ground level (unless you have special permission from CASA)
- Closer than 30 meters to people (unless they are part of your own group)
- Closer than 5.5 kilometers to an airport or helipad
It’s also important to note that drones are prohibited from flying in certain areas such as national parks, military bases, and other restricted areas. CASA provides a handy app called “Can I Fly There?” which shows you where it’s safe and legal to fly your drone.
How to ensure you’re following the rules
To ensure you’re following the rules when flying your drone in Australia, there are a few things you can do:
- Register your drone: If your drone weighs more than 250 grams, it’s a legal requirement to register it with CASA. You’ll need to provide your personal details, as well as details about your drone.
- Pass the basic knowledge test: If you’re flying a very small drone weighing between 250 grams and 2.0 kilograms, you’ll need to pass a basic knowledge test. This test can be completed online and covers topics such as air law, safety, and how to operate your drone.
- Check your location: Before flying your drone, use the “Can I Fly There?” app to check if it’s safe and legal to fly in your chosen location.
- Follow the operating conditions: All drones are subject to the standard operating conditions set out by CASA. Make sure you’re familiar with these conditions and always follow them when flying your drone. Some of these conditions include flying within visual line-of-sight, not flying higher than 120 meters above ground level, and not flying closer than 30 meters to people.
- Respect others’ privacy: When flying your drone, be respectful of others’ privacy. Avoid flying over private property without permission, and never use your drone to spy on people or invade their privacy.
- Stay up-to-date with the regulations: Drone laws and regulations in Australia are subject to change. It’s important to stay up-to-date with any changes or updates to ensure you’re always flying legally and safely.
Frequently asked questions
Q: Can I fly my drone at night?
A: Yes, you can fly your drone at night as long as you have special permission from CASA.
Q: Do I need a license to fly a drone in Australia?
A: If your drone weighs more than 2.0 kilograms, you’ll need a remote pilot license to operate it. If your drone weighs between 250 grams and 2.0 kilograms, you’ll need to pass a basic knowledge test. Drones weighing less than 250 grams can be flown without a license or registration.
Q: Can I fly my drone in a national park?
A: No, drones are prohibited from flying in national parks and other restricted areas.
Q: Can I fly my drone near an airport?
A: You must not fly your drone closer than 5.5 kilometers to an airport or helipad.
Drones can be a fun and exciting hobby, but it’s important to be aware of the laws and regulations surrounding their use. By following the rules and guidelines set out by CASA, you can ensure you’re flying your drone safely and legally in Australia.
Remember to always check your location before flying, respect others’ privacy, and stay up-to-date with any changes to the regulations. Happy flying!
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