Changes to Australian RPA Legislation

The Australian Government has recently registered an amendment to the Civil Aviation Legislation Amendment (Part 101) - concerning the regulations of Remotely Piloted Vehicles (RPA's).

Some of the more interesting changes are:

4 classes of RPA, based on all-up-weight:

  • Micro RPA (0-100g)
  • Very Small RPA (100g-2kg)
  • Small RPA (2kg-25kg)
  • Medium RPA (25kg-150kg)

Commercial Operation

No training or licences required to operate Micro and Very Small RPA's commercially in standard flight conditions. However, CASA does have to be notified 5 working days beforehand.

Operation over Private Land

Small RPA's and below can operated over private land (the landowner/occupier must own the RPA) in standard flight conditions without requiring any licences or training.

Licensing

New “Remote Pilot Licenses” to replace UAV Controller Certificate.

Standard Flight Conditions

Standard (not needing an exemption from CASA) conditions have been tweaked slightly to:

  • Under 400ft AGL
  • Outside of 30m from other people
  • Not over a populous area
  • Not within 3nm of an airport
  • Not in a restricted or prohibited area
  • Not over an area where public safety or emergency operations are being conducted (without their prior permission)
  • Is within visual line of sight by the operator

The full changes to the legislation are available at https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2016L00400

EDIT:

Note this legislation does not come into effect until 1 October 2016

Views: 1402

Comment by Johnatan on March 30, 2016 at 6:05am

"Not within 3nm of an airport"?!

Comment by Darius Jack on March 30, 2016 at 9:55am

@Stephen,

thank you, excellent legislation about Micro and Very Small classes exempted from

certification in Commerciaol Operations.

Alike US legislation is pending in Congress.

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what matters:

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101.073  Operation must generally be within visual line of sight

Unmanned aircraft must be operated within visual line of sight

             (1)  A person commits an offence of strict liability if:

                     (a)  the person operates an unmanned aircraft; and

                     (b)  the aircraft is not operated within the person’s visual line of sight.

Penalty:  50 penalty units.

--

101.097  Autonomous aircraft—launch or release without approval prohibited

             (1)  This regulation:

                     (a)  applies to an unmanned aircraft (an autonomous aircraft) that does not allow pilot intervention during all stages of the flight of the aircraft; but

                     (b)  does not apply to balloons, kites or model aircraft.

             (2)  A person commits an offence of strict liability if the person causes an autonomous aircraft to be launched or released.

Penalty:  50 penalty units.

             (3)  Subregulation (2) does not apply if:

                     (a)  the person holds an approval under regulation 101.029 to launch or release the autonomous aircraft; and

                     (b)  the conditions (if any) imposed on the approval are complied with.

Note:          A defendant bears an evidential burden in relation to the matter in subregulation (3): see subsection 13.3(3) of the Criminal Code.

--

101.237  Meaning of excluded RPA

             (1)  This regulation sets out what is an excluded RPA.

Note:          Excluded RPA can be operated without certain licences and permissions. See for example regulation 101.252, which requires a person to have a remote pilot licence to operate an RPA, unless it is an excluded RPA.

             (2)  A micro RPA is an excluded RPA.

             (3)  A very small RPA is an excluded RPA if it is being operated:

                     (a)  for the purpose of sport or recreation; or

                     (b)  in standard RPA operating conditions.

             (4)  A small RPA is an excluded RPA if it is being operated:

                     (a)  by or on behalf of the owner of the RPA; and

                     (b)  over land owned or occupied by the owner of the RPA; and

                     (c)  in standard RPA operating conditions; and

                     (d)  for the purposes of one or more of the following:

                              (i)  aerial spotting;

                             (ii)  aerial photography;

                            (iii)  agricultural operations;

                            (iv)  aerial communications retransmission;

                             (v)  the carriage of cargo;

                            (vi)  any other activity that is similar to an activity mentioned in the subparagraphs above; and

                            for which no remuneration is received by the operator or the owner of the RPA, the owner or occupier of the land or any person on whose behalf the activity is being conducted.

             (5)  A small RPA, or a medium RPA, is an excluded RPA if it is being operated for the purpose of sport or recreation.

             (6)  A small RPA, or a medium RPA, is an excluded RPA if it is being operated in standard RPA operating conditions by:

                     (a)  a person for the sole purpose of meeting the experience requirement mentioned in paragraph 101.295(2)(c) for the grant of a remote pilot licence; or

                     (b)  the holder of a remote pilot licence for the sole purpose of getting practical experience and gaining competency in the operation of an RPA, including a kind of RPA that is not specified in the holder’s remote pilot licence.

             (7)  A medium RPA is an excluded RPA if it is being operated:

                     (a)  by or on behalf of the owner of the RPA; and

                     (b)  by a person who holds a remote pilot licence that authorises the person to operate the RPA; and

                     (c)  over land owned or occupied by the owner of the RPA; and

                     (d)  in standard RPA operating conditions; and

                     (e)  for the purposes of one or more of the following:

                              (i)  aerial spotting;

                             (ii)  aerial photography;

                            (iii)  agricultural operations;

                            (iv)  aerial communications retransmission;

                             (v)  the carriage of cargo;

                            (vi)  any other activity that is similar to an activity mentioned in the subparagraphs above; and

                            for which no remuneration is received by the operator or owner of the RPA, the owner or occupier of the land or any person on whose behalf the activity is being conducted.

             (8)  An RPA is an excluded RPA if it is being operated:

                     (a)  by a person solely for the purpose of the person receiving training from an RPA operator who holds a certificate under Division 101.F.4 that authorises the operator to conduct operations using the RPA; and

                     (b)  in accordance with the operator’s documented training procedures.

--

I send today copy of this AU Legislation to Secretary Foxx, FAA, Congress and Senate.

I would like to get opinion from Minister Chester on airworthiness of so called

DIY drones, assembled at home from parts purchased remotely from suppliers.

Tridge could be of great help contacting AU Minister Chester directly and asking him about the future of home built  DIY drones or remotely piloted aircraft.

Airworthiness Directives (ADs) are legally enforceable regulations issued by the FAA in accordance with 14 CFR part 39 to correct an unsafe condition in a product. Part 39 defines a product as an aircraft, engine, propeller, or appliance.

Comment by Stephen Dade on March 30, 2016 at 3:27pm

I've edit the post to clarify that the legislation does not come into effect until October.

Comment by Chris on March 30, 2016 at 4:23pm

Hi @Johnatan,

You can apply for an area approval for ops within 3nm of an Aerodrome (includes Heli Pads).  So every hospital and TV station has one, so that is 5.5 radius from each of those.  You apply for one by giving the location of the flight, intended flight times (if you give small windows over a series of days, its ok, but if you ask for a large area over a large time block expect to be knocked back).

An area approval will cost around $160/h to approve, for a simple one I think they do in a few hours (I hear 1 hour is normal charge for this, can some UOC holders confirm this pls?).

So not a show stopper by any means (as long as CASA approves the area approval, they have knocked back a few from my understanding in the Sydney metro area).

Chris

Comment by Chris on March 30, 2016 at 5:01pm

I think that a bunch of UOC holders doing photogrammetry arent' going to be happy, this is where I see the biggest impact.  Mining / Farming ops are going to consider in house ops if UOC's charge too much for their services - but their are more costs than might first seem apparent (by the time you get some RTK GPS's, the software, breakdown costs, etc) .  Also note that most photogrammetry can be done on a sub 2kg drone that for commercial ops is going to be an exempt so their will be some low cost operators come October.

This will be a bit of a shakeup for the industry but a move in the right direction I feel.

Also note that CASA has stated their intent is to move the 2Kg to a higher value over time, so we all need to operate safely so that in 5 to 10 years time they will increase it to a larger value.  The ball is in our court - lets hope we can all play by the rules.

Chris

Comment by HyperGuy on March 30, 2016 at 5:20pm

Great stuff!!

Comment by Chris on March 30, 2016 at 5:40pm

Hi @Guy,

I should clarify, from a real estate photo perspective I don't anticipate CASA giving a blanket approval over Metro Sydney for example (this would be due to the hospital helipad, etc).  I wish they would as a hobby flyer can do it if they stay under 400ft kind of seems a bit backwards to me).

I see what your saying, wow I've read that section I dont know how many times, thought I had a good handle on it and never noticed the 'above' wording.  I say good luck to them and it certainly would open the market up alot, no need for area approvals for most of Metro Sydney then if you stay under 400ft.....  Wow, that is interesting.  As long as they dont intefere with full size.  The only limitation is the populous area part and that is easily managed, a park not in use is not a populous area, a quiet street is not a populous area (both of those I've got confirmed in email correspondence with CASA).  Equally a busy road is a populous area, likewise a park with a soccer game in progress is a populous area.  Populous area is a bit subjective but any operator I would recommend discuss specific scenarios with CASA - they are a good bunch who do reply to you in a reasonable time to clarify any of those definitions.

Still surprised that the wording is above and never noticed it before......

Comment by JB on March 30, 2016 at 7:24pm

Thanks Stephen!

Made my day hearing this has finally come through! Sweet!

Poor UOC operators though...can see the pain coming for them unless they have their clients wrapped up in contracts. Many larger organisations will likely start operating themselves with sub 2kg. Hope that segment can stay clean to keep the doors open for business. No registration is a bonus as well.

In particular up to 25kg operating over your own property sounds interesting, the question is whether a lease or share is good enough to show "ownership". I have 3 people in the family alone interested in that for farming, who are also neighbors. 

Officially I think its going to be a boom time in Australia for drones! Lets go! ;-)

Comment by Chris on March 30, 2016 at 7:37pm

Hi JB,

I think UOC's will have to find better ways to market / sell themselves.  A sub 2kg is good for basic real estate work, photogrammetry and other similar work.  So they will find if they were in those areas that they will have a lot of new players in October.  If they want to do TV, high end photography or film work then they'll require that UOC as 2Kg wont cut it.  Also Insurance companies will need to offer products, otherwise people may avoid them and use UOC holders (who can currently get insurance).

Also a mine or a farm may not want the overhead of managing their own stuff, sometimes its just easier to outsource it all - economies of scale and all.

Yes the ownership question will be interesting, I'd suggest if you have 3 parties who own it then you'll need all their consent unless someone is appointed as the operator.  Also likewise I think you'll find that the leasee in this context would be considered the 'owner'. Needs some clarification to be sure - maybe something to get added to to the lease on property to be sure.

Chris

Comment by Daryl Wilding-McBride on March 30, 2016 at 8:20pm

The explanatory text includes "Autonomous flight is prohibited under the amendments until such time as suitable regulations can be developed by CASA", but goes on to define autonomous flight as "an operation during which an unmanned aircraft is operating without pilot intervention in the management of the flight". And autonomous aircraft as "aircraft that do not allow pilot intervention during all stages of the flight of the aircraft". (emphasis my own).

Even though those definitions are different, my understanding is that waypoint flights with auto takeoff/land are still allowed, provided the pilot can take control if need be, especially as my recent OC assessment required me to demonstrate such a flight.

Daryl.

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