Almost any wedding you attend these days will be accompanied by the high pitch buzz of a drone trying to capture the romantic moment.
However, often such activity is done in breach of the regulations set out by authorities. In Australia, the responsible body is beginning to issue thousands of dollars in fines to crack down on the pilots in breach of the regulations for using drones to film occasions like weddings and even Easter egg hunts.
In Australia, Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) administers the rules and associated penalties for remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS, or drones). CASA today announced details of some of the behaviour that is being witnessed, and—in some cases—penalised.
One drone pilot was fined $900 for putting at risk a group of children at a Canberra Easter egg hunt by flying a drone flown at a height from which if the drone malfunctioned it would not have been able to clear the area.
Another pilot has also been fined $1440 for flying in Sydney Harbour restricted airspace and flying within 30 metres of people.
The third announced by CASA was $900 fine for hazardous flying at and near guests at a wedding in regional NSW. All three drone pilots paid the penalties issued by CASA.
In September 2016, CASA passed regulations that allowed more people to fly RPAS without qualifications, subject to a number of rules. Under these terms, operators are not allowed to fly aircraft over two kilograms; within 30 metres of people; in restricted airspace; or, beyond line of sight.
Getting your tech-savvy relative to film your wedding with a drone, therefore, may make your wedding an even more expensive affair. However, if the drone is being flown by a qualified operator or on private property, the operator may be able to perform more advanced flying, subject to additional terms.
Admittedly, it is not easy to determine where or how you are able to fly. To make it easier, CASA recently launched a free drone safety app which maps restricted air spaces and other operating guidelines. CASA’s website also has a host of resources detailing the regulation for both commercial and non-commercial purposes.
CASA’s Director of Aviation Safety, Shane Carmody, said fines will continue to be issued where people break the drone safety rules.
“The rules protect people, property and aircraft from drones,” Mr Carmody said.
“If you fly a drone it is your responsibility to fly by the rules and stay safe at all times.
“Every drone pilot should download CASA’s drone safety app, which will help them fly safely.”