Remotely piloted aircraft systems - frequently asked questions
- How high can I fly?
The maximum operating height is 120 metres (400 feet) above ground level (AGL) in controlled airspace or outside an approved area unless permission has been given by CASA to fly above this height.
- Can I fly my RPA indoors and take photographs?
- you must not operate an unmanned aircraft in a way that creates a hazard to another aircraft, another person, or property
- you must not fly closer than 30 metres (or under certain conditions, 15m) of people
- you must not fly over any populous area.
Familiarise yourself with the current Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 1998.
- Will I be able to fly up to 15 metres of people?
The regulations permit operation within 30 or 15m of a person as so long as specific conditions are met.
- Can I fly my RPA over populous areas?
RPA's are not permitted to fly over populous areas. A populous area is defined as any area where, if the drone fails it could cause injury to people or property.
- Can I fly my RPA in first person view (FPV) i.e. beyond visual line of sight (VLOS)?
No. When the condition on your operator′s certificate states VLOS, you must keep the RPA in sight at all times, unaided (except for prescription glasses or sunglasses) without the use of binoculars, telescopes or zoom lenses. Otherwise, the regulations permit operation at night if a CASA approval.
- Am I allowed to operate an RPA with colour blindness?
Yes, as we do not require a medical clearance, an RPA can be operated by a person with a colour deficiency.
Note: A number of manufacturers use multi-coloured LED light codes to display the current status of the RPA, it is important that you are familiar with the meaning of the different coloured lights. If they cannot be discerned and this causes a hazard to aviation safety this will result in non compliance with Part 101.
- Do I need insurance to operate my RPA?
The Civil Aviation Safety Regulations (CASR 1998) relating to the operation of a RPA in Australia do not require insurance coverage. We strongly recommend organisations consider third party personal and property insurance/or UAV insurance as part of their business, however, there is no regulatory requirement from CASA.
- I am a foreign operator wanting to conduct demonstration activities, what are the steps to obtain approval? Note this only applies to non-commercial activities.
- obtain an aviation reference number (ARN) in the name of your registered company - Form 1170 or use CASA Form 1162 if applying for an ARN for an individual
- once the ARN is issued, your organisation needs to make an application to us for an area approval, email firstname.lastname@example.org to obtain a copy of the template
- establish a safety case to support your submission. You will need to provide us with a comprehensive risk assessment as part of the submission
- provide the licence details of any foreign registered RPA controller/pilot proposed to fly during the trial
- apply to us for such pilots to undergo a flight proficiency test prior to the trial commencing
- all RPA pilots are to be familiar with Civil Aviation Safety Regulations (CASR) Part 101 as applicable
- all operations must be conducted in accordance with CASR Part 101 as applicable. We will estimate the fee for the flight test which must be paid prior to conducting any flights in Australia.
Important: Anytime you are flying your aircraft you need to ensure you mitigate all identifiable risks and do not fly where you could injure a person.
- Do I need an approval from CASA to fly a remotely piloted aircraft (RPA)?
- How long will it take to obtain an RePL or a ReOC?
- Where do I find a remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS) training provider?
We provide a list of all organisations certified to deliver basic RPAS training.
Note: To find an approved training provider from the list, select the appropriate area in the state/territory selection box and then scroll down the list of categories under operations and select basic RPAS training. Click apply to display organisations certified to deliver this training.
- Do I need a ReOC if I intend to demonstrate an RPA to prospective clients?
Yes, if that is for the purpose of hire or reward.
- Will I be able to fly at night for commercial purposes?
No, unless a CASA approval is held or it is done in accordance with an air traffic control direction.
- Can I allow other people to operate under my ReOC or am I allowed to operate under another organisation's ReOC?
Yes. Any operations conducted under a ReOC remain the non-delegable responsibility of the ReOC holder. These activities are subject to compliance with all other applicable operating requirements under CASR Part 101. This is to ensure appropriate procedures to manage the arrangements are in place, provisions are documented in the operations manual and operations remain in accordance with any operating conditions imposed by us under the ReOC. It is also important to consider the following:
- anyone operating under an organisation's ReOC must be inducted into the company as per their operations manual procedure
- all aircraft being used must match the authorised aircraft types (on the parent ReOC).
Note: We regard a direct employee as being a person who is engaged under a contract of employment (whether written or oral) with the ReOC holder. All other persons operating under the ReOC will typically be considered by us to be contractors.
Remote pilot licence
- Do I need an aviation medical certificate to obtain a ReOC or a RePL?
No, you do not require a medical clearance.
- What is an aircraft radio operator certificate (AROC)?
An Aircraft Radio Operator Certificate (AROC) is awarded to anyone who successfully completes a training syllabus at a flying school or through an approved person/organisation. An AROC is required if you need to operate a radio on any of the aviation frequencies. To be awarded your AROC, also requires that you have been assessed to meet the English standards of either:
- General English Language Proficiency (GELP); or
- Aviation English Language Proficiency (AELP) at level 4, 5 or 6.
You will need to complete training in the use of VHF air band radio (hand held or base station/aircraft radio) so you will be able to communicate and maintain a listening watch on published frequencies and to operate in controlled airspace during operations.
- Does my Controller′s Certificate/RePL need to be updated if I want to add another aircraft which is not in the same type or weight category?
- Complete CASA Form 101-01 and submit this form to CASA Client Services Centre (Canberra).
- Include the maximum take-off weight, including your camera/gimble etc., to assist staff in issuing the licence.
- A fee of $25 applies.
Remote operators certificate
- How much will it cost to obtain a ReOC?
- What RPA aircraft types does CASA authorise for ReOC holders?
We authorise RPA in the following categories:
- Fixed wing
- Powered Lift
- I have an authorisation to operate my aircraft overseas, how do I obtain approval to operate for commercial purposes in Australia?
The regulations make no provision for acceptance of foreign operator certificates or remote pilot licences, although the theory component of a course conducted in a foreign country will meet the theory requirements for the licence. Please email the RPAS office at email@example.com.
If you are operating a Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) that weighs over 2kg for hire or reward, then you will need to obtain Australian certification from us. Please email the RPAS office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are operating a very small RPA(100g - <2kg) commercially then you will not need an RPA Operator Certificate (ReOC) or a Remote Pilot Licence (RePL). Those operating in this RPA category will have apply for an Aviation Reference Number (ARN) and then notify CASA at least five business days before their first commercial flight and comply with the standard operating conditions in the regulations and be aware of the guidance in advisory circular (AC) 101-10.
- Does my UOC/ReOC need to be updated if I want to add another aircraft which is within the same type or weight category?
- What do I need to do to add an RPA which is of a different type or weight category to my existing operator certificate?
The chief controller may be required to undertake a flight assessment with us; further guidance will be given once the application has been reviewed.
- Do I need to update my operations manual?
Yes, you will also need to supply an updated operations manual and operations library on the new RPA type being added.
- What is the process to add an aircraft to my UOC/ReOC if it is already within the existing approved class?
Any changes must be accepted by us in writing.
- The aircraft and its details must be included in the operations manual and operations library.
- Submit them to CASA for acceptance via email: email@example.com.
- Do I need an alternate chief remote pilot?
As a ReOC holder you can make arrangements when the Chief Remote Pilot (CRP) is absent from the workplace without having an alternate CRP in place. This supports short term absence from the work place or for them being responsible for certain functions. Under these arrangements another person may be authorised to perform some of the role responsibilities of the Chief Remote Pilot, but the Chief Remote Pilot is accountable for these functions. If a ReOC organisation wishes to make arrangements for when the Chief Remote Pilot is absent, these arrangements need to be documented in their Operations Manual. Arrangements that ensure the continuity of supervision of staff, approval of operations, and notification of matters of significance to the Chief Remote Pilot should be defined.
As a ReOC holder you may wish to nominate an alternate CRP. You will need to ensure you have documented processes in place regarding activation, internal training, hand-over , the types of operations the alternate CRP is authorised to carry out as well as any limitations you wish to put in place during your absence.
It will not be considered a temporary absence if the Chief Remote Pilot resigns or his/her employment is terminated by the ReOC organisation. In such an event all ReOC operations must cease until a new Chief Remote Pilot is approved by CASA.
- What is a risk assessment?
A risk assessment is an assessment tool in which risk is identified and mitigated in regards to likelihood and consequence of something going wrong. This should be applied prior to all operations to mitigate identified risk to aircraft, people or property to as low as reasonably practicable (ALARP).
- Do I need to supply a risk assessment process in my operations manual?
Yes. We must be satisfied that all identified risk has been mitigated to ALARP and it is safe to undertake the activity.
- What is a risk matrix?
A risk matrix identifies the relationship between likelihood and consequence, as well as possible control measures to lower the risk. A risk program is something that should evolve as your business grows. Each time you identify a different risk, add it to your risk register so you have a living document so that when the time comes you need to apply for a permission, area approval or exemption you already have a detailed document for your business.
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- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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