Remotely piloted aircraft systems - frequently asked questions
- I have a remotely piloted aircraft and I want to fly it, what do I need to know?
- ReOC organisation structure
- Types of certificates
- CASA approved remotely piloted aircraft system training providers
- Remotely piloted aircraft system operations
- Variation to UOC/ReOC
- Foreign companies wanting to fly a remotely piloted aircraft system in Australian airspace
- CASA remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS) office
Do I need an approval from CASA to fly a remotely piloted aircraft (RPA)?
- Flying for fun and recreation.
- Flying commercially under 2kg.
- Getting your RePL & ReOC.
- Flying over your own property.
How do I apply for an RePL and a ReOC: what are the steps involved?
How long will it take to obtain an RePL or a ReOC?
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
What weight (maximum take-off weight, including payload and fuel) categories are available?
- Effective 29 September 2016, the weight categories are: very small (100g<2kg), small (2-25kg), medium (25-150kg) and large (>150kg).
Is it possible to have an alternate chief controller and/or maintenance controller?
Yes. A ReOC organisation can have an alternate chief controller and/or maintenance controller. The ReOC holder must have a procedure in their operations manual which outlines how and when the alternate controller would be activated into that role. The alternate person is required to be assessed as suitable by us.
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.
What types of certificates can be issued by CASA?
Do I need an aviation medical to obtain a ReOC or a RePL?
No, you do not require a medical clearance.
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.
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.
What is an aircraft radio operator certificate?
An aircraft radio operator certificate is awarded to anyone who successfully completes a training syllabus at a flying school and has been assessed at English language proficiency (ELP) 4, 5 or 6 with regards to the use of VHF air band radio (hand held or base station/aircraft radio). This will be helpful to maintain a listening watch on published frequencies and to operate in controlled airspace during operations.
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 binoculars, telescopes or zoom lenses.
Will I be able to fly at night for commercial purposes?
CASA is developing a process for providing an approval to certified commercial operators applying to operate at night. We will provide guidance to the applicant regarding the procedural content articulated in their RPAS operational library. Once satisfied with the procedure, we will grant the approval.
Will I be able to fly up to 15 metres of people?
With the introduction of the new legislation, it will be possible for certified operators to fly up to 15 metres of consenting people. CASA will require approved procedures in the Operations Manual.
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. ReOC holders can apply for an exemption which CASA will assess the risk mitigations specified in the application on a case-by-case basis.
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 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.
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 of people
- you must not fly over any populous area.
Familiarise yourself with the current regulations on ComLaw.
Does an organisation conducting research and development need a ReOC?
Yes, there is a requirement for organisations undertaking research and development to have an RPA operator’s certificate (ReOC). A ReOC is required for any operation for hire or reward and, as such, the reward of the research falls into that category. Australian universities wishing to operate an RPA for research and development purposes must hold a ReOC.
Do I need a ReOC if I intend to demonstrate an RPA to prospective clients?
Yes, you need to have an RPA operator’s certificate (ReOC).
How high can I fly?
The maximum operating height is 120 metres (400 feet) above ground level (AGL) unless permission has been given by CASA to fly above this height.
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.
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.
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 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.
I have an authorisation to operate my aircraft overseas, how do I obtain approval to operate for commercial purposes in Australia?
If there is some form of reward received or if anyone will profit in some way from the flight. i.e hire or reward, then you will need to obtain Australian certification from us. Please email the RPAS office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am a foreign operator wanting to conduct flying testing activities, what are the steps to obtain approval?
If you determine that the trial flights are not being conducted for hire or reward then you need to comply with the following requirement:
- 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 email@example.com 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 insurance to operate my RPA?
The current 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.
- Business hours: 8:30am - 4:30pm Mon-Fri
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Ph: 131 757