Commercial unmanned flight - gaining your remote pilot licence (RePL) and RPA operator's certificate (ReOC)
If you want to fly a remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) commercially in Australia, outside the excluded category, then you need to be licensed and/or certified by us.
This authorisation comes in the form of a remote pilot licence (RePL), allowing individuals to fly for operators, who in turn need to hold n RPA operator's certificate (ReOC).
Effective 29 September 2016, CASA introduced the excluded RPA category, allowing some low-risk RPA operations, including commercial operations, to take place in certain circumstances without the need for a ReOC or RePL, these operations are very restrictive and are limited to a strict set of standard operating conditions.
No further privileges will be available for excluded RPA operations.
Gaining your remote pilot licence (RePL)
There are two ways to gain your RePL:
- If you have no prior aviation knowledge, you will need to complete a course with an RPAS training provider.
- If you have passed an aeronautical knowledge exam for a flight crew licence, you can complete operation (practical type) training with an RPA training provider to get type rated.
More information on gaining your RePL:
Please note that RePLs are not subject to CASA renewal, but operators will be expected to have documented currency requirements.
Gaining your RPA operator's certificate (ReOC)
Once you have gained your RePL, you may operate commercially with a ReOC holder, or apply to get your own certificate.
To gain a ReOC you must:
- complete Application Forms 101-02 and 101-04;
- complete and submit supporting documentation including your RPAS operations manual and RPAS operations procedures (Library);
- pay the estimated fee; and
- participate in an interview with CASA.
CASA Client Services Centre (Permissions Issue) will issue the certificate upon successful completion of the assessment process.
Previously, CASA authorised UAV operator’s certificates in the RPA categories of multi-rotor, fixed wing and helicopter types across four different weights: < 2 kg, <7 kg, <20 kg and <150 kg. From 29 September 2016, CASA is authorising RPA operator’s certificates (ReOC) in the following weight categories:
- very small (100g<2kg)
- small (2-25kg) (where required with 7kg restriction)
- medium (25-150kg)
- large (>150kg).
Applying for a ReOC
There are now two ways to apply for and obtain an initial issue ReOC.
CASA can consider ReOC applications for all kinds of RPAS operations.
- Apply directly to CASA. Complete Application Forms 101-02 and 101-04. Forward the completed application to regservices@CASA.gov.au. For more information please click on link Commercial unmanned flight.
- Apply through an authorised industry delegate. Alternatively, you may apply for and obtain an initial issue ReOC from an industry delegate. Industry delegates are currently authorised to issue ReOCs for non-complex aerial work operations only, although the scope of this authority may expand in the future.
A list of industry delegates to which applications for non-complex aerial work ReOCs may be made can be found here: CASR Part 101 delegates.
Inclusion of an industry delegate on this list does not constitute a recommendation or an endorsement by CASA. Any industry delegate currently authorised to assess applications and issue ReOCs, who has asked for their details to be published by CASA in this way, may be included on this list.
Industry delegates are not bound by the Civil Aviation (Fees) Regulations 1995, and the fees they charge may differ from those CASA charges under those regulations.
You will need to contact individual authorised industry delegates for details about their charges, time frames for assessment and other application-related information.
More information and commonly asked questions can be found on our drone FAQs page.
Renewal process for ReOC
Upon certification, ReOCs are valid for an initial 12 months, requiring the operator to renew after one year of operating. Upon renewal, ReOCs are then valid for three years.
The ReOC renewal process involves:
- CASA Client Services Centre (Permissions Issue) will issue operators with a notice to renew three months before the renewal date.
- Applicant pays the renewal fee of $480.00.
- CASA will contact applicants requesting information pertaining to the past 12 months of RPA operation.
- CASA will review the information submitted.
- If satisfactory, the application will be endorsed for renewal.
- CASA Client Services Centre (Permissions Issue) will issue the renewed certificate to the operator.
You will need to establish a safety case and a comprehensive risk assessment to support your submission for approval for additional flight activities such as flight at night.
For more information contact the RPAS office at email@example.com.
Airservices Australia may be consulted in the approvals process. For more information go to Airservices Australia area approvals requirements.
Controlled aerodromes in civil airspace
You need to apply for an approval for operations:
- within three nautical miles (nm)(5.5km)of an aerodrome controlled by an air traffic service
- within the movement area or runway of an aerodrome
- within approach or departure path of any aerodrome, or
For operations within 3nm of controlled aerodromes, you need approval from CASA; however, Airservices Australia is consulted prior to any decision being made, please refer to CASR101.080.
- The first point of contact is with the RPAS office email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- CASA will liaise with Airservices Australia through their ATS Integrity group.
- If the application is approved, CASA will issue the appropriate approval.
Please be aware Airservices Australia will require a minimum of 21 working days to process your request.
Military controlled aerodromes
Operations planned within military controlled airspace (i.e. military controlled restricted areas) require Defence department approval, as all military airspace is restricted. Please refer to CASRs 101.065, 101.070 and 101.080.
The first point of contact with CASA is - email@example.com.
Defence will arrange direct liaison with the unit that will provide the details and approval. Defence requires a minimum of ten working days to process your request.
Operations near non-controlled aerodromes require extra care, and you cannot operate over the movement area or within the approach and departure paths of the aerodrome unless you have a CASA-approved procedure. Guidance on the extent of approach and departure paths is available in AC101-01 (available early October 2016). You can submit your request for permission to the RPAS office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Operations in restricted airspace are only permitted with the permission of, and in accordance with, the conditions imposed by the authority controlling the area.
Remotely piloted aircraft system resources and links
Frequently asked questions, further reading, RPA related website and 'Flight Safety Australia' magazine articles are available on our remotely piloted aircraft system resources and links page.
If you have any questions or RPA operational enquiries, please contact CASA's RPAS Office by: