We are increasingly hearing more about drones being flown over our heads by government authorities or private enthusiasts. Sometimes the stories involve examples of invasion of privacy, sinister motives, or simply careless behaviour which could potentially harm people or property.
I celebrated the New Year in Canberra. Yes, I know I need a life, but surprisingly Canberra put on a good fireworks and lighting display. The interesting thing in relation to this topic is that I noticed a drone, with navigation (red & green) lights, flying around the CBD area and fireworks throughout the evening. Presumably an authorised flight by a local TV station or authorities?
So what are rules for D rone flights?
Flying of drones is subject to the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations (CASR) subpart 101.
The key rules that must be followed include – The drone must:
- Always remain in line-of-sight of the operator.
- Not fly closer than 30m of any vehicles, boats, buildings or people.
- Not fly over populous areas, such as busy beaches or parks, backyards or sports ovals where a game is in progress.
- Not fly higher than 400 feet (120m) if in controlled airspace e.g. most major cities.
- Not fly within 5.5km of an airfield.
Some advanced drones are also providing “first person view” (FPV). A FPV is an unmanned aircraft fitted with live video equipment which enables the pilot on the ground to fly it as though they were in the cockpit. Despite their capability to fly further with video control, this type of drone is also required to remain in line-of-sight of the operator by the current Australian regulations.
Drones used for sport or recreation (e.g. hobbyist category) do not require certification, but if used for commercial purposes e.g. for fee or reward, then operators must obtain certification from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).