Flying drones or model aircraft recreationally
If you want to fly your drone or model aircraft for fun in Australia, you can do so without our approval - providing you follow some simple safety rules.
These rules detailed in Civil Aviation Safety Regulations Part 101 cover all recreational unmanned flight, including model aircraft, remote controlled aeroplanes and helicopters, blimps, rockets, kites, pyrotechnics and of course the ever-growing drone sector.
Flying with control - rules for flying drones and model aircraft safely
When flying drones or model aircraft recreationally, you need to follow these simple drone rules to keep everyone safe.
- You should only fly in visual line-of-sight, in day visual meteorological conditions (VMC). What does that mean?
- No night flying (generally).
- No flying in or through cloud or fog.
- Be able to see the aircraft with your own eyes (rather than through first-person-view [FPV, binoculars, telescopes]) at all times, (unless you operate under the procedures of an approved model flying association. Contact the MAAA for more information about flying FPV).
- You must not fly closer than 30 metres to vehicles, boats, buildings or people.
- You must not fly over populous areas such as beaches, heavily populated parks, or sports ovals while they are in use.
- In controlled airspace, which covers most Australian cities, you must not fly higher than 120 metres (400 feet) above the ground.
- You must not fly in a way that creates a hazard to other aircraft, so you should keep at least 5.5 km away from airfields, aerodromes and helicopter landing sites.
- You must not fly your RPA in or over prohibited / restricted area, unless you have the permission of the authority controlling the area.
- In restricted airspace, aircraft movements are reduced to those with certain specified permissions. Examples of restricted airspace include airspace around military installations or military controlled aerodromes, over Sydney Harbour, high-density flying operations or at an air show or other large public event. Restricted airspace may also be imposed by police for safety or security reasons near bushfires or major crime scenes. It is illegal to fly your RPA in these areas without permission.
Operations within the 3nm (5.5km) radius of an aerodrome or helicopter landing site are possible and lawful providing you comply with the Standard Operating Conditions listed above and ensure that you do not operate:
- on the approach and departure path, or
- within the movement area, or
- create a hazard to aircraft that may be using those areas.
RPA used for sport or recreational purposes that weigh 150kg or less are considered to be operating privately and are regulated by the provisions for model aircraft. More information about these requirements are provided in Advisory Circulars available for download:
Flying for money?
If you want to earn money from flying your drone, there are different rules depending on the size of your drone. Information is available about RPA operations flying commercially under 2kg, flying commercially over 2kg and flying in commercial-like operations over your own land.
Remotely piloted aircraft in emergency situations
Never fly a drone or model aircraft near bushfires, floods, traffic accidents or any other emergency situation where you may be presenting a risk to the emergency operations taking place. While it might be tempting to record footage, you can pose a major safety risk to emergency personnel in the air and on the ground. Find out more on the remotely piloted aircraft in emergency situations page.
If you have further questions about flying your drone or model aircraft recreationally, such as where and how to fly, restrictions and questions about the use of first-person view (FPV), you can contact the RPAS team through our online RPAS enquiry form.
Resources and links
Access frequently asked questions, advisory information, RPA related websites and 'Flight Safety Australia' magazine articles online.
- Remotely piloted aircraft system resources and links.
- CASA Sport aviation website.
- The Model Aeronautical Association of Australia is recognised as a self-administering sport aviation organisation and has established model aircraft fields and experienced advisors who can help you with questions about model aircraft.
- The Australian Miniature Aerosports Society is also a national aero model organisation for model aviation in Australia.