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Remotely piloted aircraft systems

A remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS), also known as unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) or an unmanned aircraft system (UAS), includes:

  • the aircraft
  • remote pilots (also known as controllers)
  • pilot stations
  • command and control links
  • components specified in the type design
  • ground support equipment
  • other personnel associated with the operation of the RPAS.

CASA uses the term RPAS for the system, remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) for the aircraft, and remote pilot for the controller.

CASA and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) refer to these as remotely piloted aircraft. This term emphasises that there is a human in the loop, controlling and overseeing the aircraft, even if that person remains on the ground.

CASA is primarily focused on civilian RPAS operations in civil airspace.

Remotely piloted aircraft come in all shapes and sizes. They can be used for:

  • firefighting
  • search and rescue
  • disaster relief
  • border patrol
  • weather monitoring
  • hurricane tracking and
  • law enforcement.

What is the difference between a model aircraft and a remotely piloted aircraft?

You can read about the difference between a model aircraft and a remotely piloted aircraft, and what rules might apply if you are operating a radio controlled model.

Can you fly your remotely piloted aircraft when disaster strikes?

This information will tell you if you can operate your aircraft when there is an emergency such as a bushfire, flood or other emergency situation.

Operating your aircraft responsibly

There are safety regulations for owners and operators of remotely piloted aircraft. You can also find information about operating your aircraft and privacy issues.

Applying for an unmanned aerial vehicle operator’s certificate

We can help you prepare your application for your operator’s certificate.

Due to an increase in the number of applications, the current waiting time for a new UAV operator’s certificate is about six months. We expect this to ease by mid-2016, with assessments taking up to three months.

Part 101 Amendments

CASA is pleased to announce amendments to Part 101 have been registered on the Federal Register of Legislation and will come into effect 29 September 2016.

More information can be viewed at Part 101 Amendments - Cutting red tape for remotely piloted aircraft.

Resources and links

We have a list of current operators, model aircraft associations and other information about remotely piloted aircraft.

Contact us

You can contact us for all RPA operational enquiries by: