news The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has announced that regulatory requirements for commercial operators of remotely piloted aircraft, or drones, are to be relaxed later this year.
The amendments, which will take effect from 29 September 2016, will apply to drones used in commercial operations weighing less than 2kg maximum take-off weight.
Mark Skidmore, CASA’s Director of Aviation Safety, said the changes to the 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,” he said. “The amended regulations recognise the different safety risks posed by different types of remotely piloted aircraft.
Under the new rules, commercial operators of very small remotely piloted aircraft will no longer need to obtain certain regulatory approvals, including an operator’s certificate and a remote pilot licence.
Instead, operators will only need to notify the CASA of the intention to use their drones for commercial flights according to standard operating conditions.
These conditions include flying only in the daytime, maintaining a visual line of sight with the drone, flying below 120m in altitude, maintaining a distance of over 30m from other people, flying more than 5.5km from controlled aerodromes, and not operating near an emergency situation.
The amendments will also permit private land owners to carry out a “range of activities” on their own land without the need for approvals from CASA – including non-commercial flying of drones up to 25kg in weight.
“The move will cut regulatory costs for operators by thousands of dollars, save time and reduce paperwork,” the CASA said in a statement, adding that it will provide an “easy-to-use” online notification system.
“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,” said Skidmore, who added, “Penalties can apply if the conditions are not met.”
Image credit: DJI