CASA tightens drone rules ahead of review

By on 23 October, 2017

Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has introduced tighter rules on recreational drone flight ahead of a full review of drone regulation. 

CASA cites community concern as the prompt for the new restrictions, and a rising number of incidents being reported.

“We keep getting reports from pilots of seeing drones while they’re taking off and landing, often up to several thousand feet high,” CASA spokesman Peter Gibson told Spatial Source.

“The increasing number of drones, the number of people flying them recreationally, and the increasing number of reports of incidents and events made us look again at the drone rules — and we thought it appropriate to tighten them up, and clarify some areas where they weren’t as clear as they could be.”

The new regulations enforce a maximum ceiling of 400 feet (just under 123 metres) on recreational drones, and craft must remain more than 30 metres from people not involved in controlling the drone, and only one person may fly a recreational drone at one time. All drones – recreational and non-recreational – must now be kept away from areas where fire, police or other emergency operations are underway unless there is approval from the person in charge of the emergency operation.

Drones weighing over 100 grams now cannot be flown within 5.5 kilometres of a controlled aerodrome — the major aerodromes in capitals and regional centres —  or non-controlled aerodromes, if it is clear that aircraft are operating at these sites. Controlled aerodromes can be easily identified by whether a control tower is present at the facility, or on Airservice Australia’s map.

Announced on October 20, the new regulations were accompanied by the launch of DroneFlyer, CASA’s new drone safety website, and are intended as a preliminary measure ahead of a full review of drone regulation in Australia that is in progress. Analysis of almost 1,000 responses to a discussion paper on drone flight regulation are currently being analysed as the basis of CASA’s review, with results and recommendations expected to be made public in 2018.

Gibson confirmed that CASA has been discussion with DJI regarding the potential implementation of their geofencing system, and that various applications of this technology were suggested in the discussion paper, though the agency’s position on the technology was yet to be determined.

The formal direction containing CASA’s new rules for drone flight can be found here.

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