Immediate term – 2022 to 2023

Over the next 2 years, continuing advancements in technology will improve the efficiency, affordability, and range of remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS). This is expected to increase the uptake of RPAS, particularly in the commercial sector. The use of drones and model aircraft for sport and recreation is also expected to stay high.

There is likely to be greater demand for approvals for commercial operations beyond the standard operating conditions, and novel applications we have not previously assessed.

This includes the use of RPAS to:

  • play critical roles in firefighting, emergency services and public safety

  • reduce costs in mining and agriculture

  • conduct inspections in locations that are inaccessible or dangerous.

It is likely there will be increased demand for us to provide approvals for:

  • extended visual line of sight (EVLOS) and beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations

  • remote operations centres

  • Australian-registered aircraft for international operations

  • increased automation

  • operations above 400 ft

  • other new and novel operations.

Some of these operations will present greater challenges around safety mitigations. There may also be more use of micro RPA for commercial activities with increased demand driven by advances in technology, aircraft affordability and a decrease in regulatory restrictions.

A review of the existing legislative framework (Part 101 of CASR) is expected to help in this effort and will also address existing and expected pain points for the industry.

Many companies worldwide are developing and designing aircraft types that can carry out advanced air mobility (AAM) operations. As AAM continues to evolve, the sector will expect greater clarity from us about the safety regulations that apply.

This will present new challenges as the regulatory approach for RPAS operations begins to intersect with that of more traditional aircraft operations.

We must consider what this means across a range of regulatory areas including:

  • airspace design

  • licensing

  • operational approvals

  • maintenance

  • flight rules

  • aircraft systems certification.

There will also be new or increased safety risks to consider in areas such as cybersecurity and use of autonomous systems.

These emerging technologies and operations will also present challenges for industry as they work to build social acceptance of these new use cases, both with local communities and other aviation participants.

Industry will also need to address the regulatory requirements of other government agencies, at a national, state, territory and local level.

Published date: 3 June 2022
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