3689599268?profile=originalThe Australian Certified UAV Operators Inc. (ACUO) have issued a petition to their members against the notice of proposed rule-making by Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority.


This is the summary of that NPRM (my emphasis):


NPRM 1309OS - Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems


This amendment to CASR Part 101 relates to Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) used for commercial operations, but excludes model aircraft used for recreational purposes. It establishes a revised risk based framework for regulating RPA operations.  A key part of this amendment acknowledges the existence of a "low risk" class of RPA operations, which are determined as small RPA with a gross weight of 2 kilograms and below while they are being operated under the standard RPA operating conditions as defined and discussed in this NPRM.

For these RPA operations, CASA proposes that the requirements for a Remote Pilot (RP) Certificate or an Unmanned Aircraft System Operator’s Certificate (UOC) will not apply.

RPA with a gross weight above 2 kilograms in all operating conditions, and all RPA operating outside of the standard RPA operating conditions, will require an operational approval.

This amendment also proposes a number of changes to:

  • update the current terminology used within CASR Part 101 to bring it in line with the latest terminology used by ICAO as found in Annex 2 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation - Rules of the Air.

  • clarify the current requirements for RP training and RP certification

  • remove redundant requirements and to simplify the process for approval.

The AUCO concern seems to be amateur RPAS conflicting with aircraft and gives examples of recent Australian incidents.  They are particularly worried about people with no experience in aviation or model aircraft going down to Harvey’s and buying a Parrot or similar then popping it up near an airport - a well justified fear.  There is no doubt that the emergence of cheap, ready to fly aircraft with capabilities far beyond ‘model aircraft’ of the past is a growing worry.

A quick search on YouTube will show the current capabilities of small UAVs, how about an 80km solar-assisted flight with video downlink all the way?  Or an electric model aircraft flying at 16,000 feet?

All very worrying but what is hard to see is how the NPRM would increase the risk of this happening as the AUCO suggests.  The incidents referred to by the ACUO are illegal now and will continue to be illegal.  The people doing this are either ignorant of or don’t care about the regulations so whatever the regulations contain is unlikely to change their behaviour.  The recent CASA brochure, to be distributed to retailers, will help with the ignorant ones but the deliberate rule-breakers won’t be deterred by NPRM 1309OS.

The NPRM won’t legalise flying near aircraft.  It doesn’t weaken the standard RPA operating conditions that non-commercial craft must follow.  

It lessens the rules for small commercial craft but also removes the ability for those craft to do things that licences commercial craft can do - FPV, controlled airspace, publish NOTAMs etc.  An official CASA licenced operator can fly FPV down the middle of 16R at Sydney airport with the right approvals.  There’s no way a commercial UAV operating under the new exemption can legally do that.

What it does propose to allow is commercial sub-2KG RPAS.  CASA see sub 2KG craft flown within current RPA regulations on a commercial basis as being a low risk policy not requiring the costly burden of regulation.

Instead the AUCO proposes greater regulation, enforcement and penalties however this is an area that would be very difficult to police.  You may as well add children’s helium balloons while you’re at it.

It appears that the AUCO has missed the point as the NPRM proposes, amongst other things, to exclude commercial UAVs under 2KG flying from CASA oversight.  So commercial sub-2kg UAVs would be under the same rules as non-commercial.  Unlikely to reduce incursions by amateur craft.

Chances are that the proposed change would affect the  ACUO members financially..  many commercial jobs can easily be done by a craft weighing less than 2 kilograms - think real estate photography, infrastructure inspection and so on.

"This would only apply in the standard operating conditions, which includes operations in visual line of sight, less than 400 feet above ground level, non-populous areas, more than 30 metres from people and outside controlled airspace," said Director of Aviation Safety John McCormick.

I hope that CASA don’t cave in just to preserve the turf of the ACUO.



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  • I agree , Sure it sounds ok if people follow the rules but most people don't know all the rules.

    yes the information is out there but it it's scattered and not always clear so bringing it all together is a must but then how do you know people are going to read it all,understand it, remember it, and then go and practice it!! also how can we trust there build is even up to scratch?

    my best idea is a new written test be drawn up by CASA along with input from certain OC holders " guys who have been doing this for 20+ years" and have that test go over everything of concern! 

    Then i'd like to see the craft at least be inspected by someone who holds a OC in the same kind of fashion a MOP015 Heavy Model Inspection is carried out and have that pass or fail and valid only for 6 months tops and void on major part change or crash requiring another inspection after repair.

    sounds like i don't want this but i do i'm just worried about the idiots.

  • Mike T, You're right. CASA can't regulate every flying craft in the sky at any given time. Just like the Police cannot regulate all drivers on Australian roads at any given time. 

    It's when things go wrong and the incident is reported to the Police that you need to make sure you have complied. Otherwise, you will face penalties. 

    I operate a UAV (multicopter) for fun with a GoPro attached for still images. It weighs just over 2KGs but I could put it on a diet and sit under 2KGs if I wanted to operate in the outlined category (I don’t want to).  

    I would like to think that people in the sub-2KG category will sit a test that outlines safely operating a UAV in Australian airspace.

    To assist all operators (including private and commercial) I would love to have all the basic rules and safe operating practices provided in a clear and easy to understand document so I can educate myself (I’m not interested in digging and trying to interpret all the guff).

    In addition to this, why don't they start educating the gumbys like me that fly for fun? Release something (videos, brochures, simple website...) that clearly outlines the 'Dos and Don'ts' of operating a model aircraft or UAV in Australia.

    While they're at it, include a reference guide for radio signals (what frequencies you can and cannot operate on with and without a licence including signal strengths). Make it simple to understand and specific for the hobbyist and commercial UAV industry.

    Perhaps something like this already exists (please point me in the right direction if so. As I said, I’m not interested in digging and interpreting legislation or acts).  

    I want to do the right thing by the community and my fellow hobbyists by flying responsibly and not creating a bad reputation for us. 

    That said, making statements like "the sub-2KG category will create a reputation for the genuine commercial operators" is rubbish. Anything that the public sees to fly with a camera is perceived as a 'drone' commercial or not. In addition, the media will always look to create a headline with the word 'drone' regardless of who is operating any form of craft that is remotely piloted. 

    Last thing. If you are a commercial operator and you see the sub-2KG category as a threat to your business, you’re not doing it right! You obviously don’t have a detailed business plan or you’re too rigid to accept change or articulate what your business can offer as a competitor in this space.


  • The old regs say "people directly involved in the operation", but that may have been a bit vague as to their permission and agreement - they were "involved" whether they liked it or not. The proposed new regs are explicit about "a person who has consented to the RPA operating within 30m of them". Either way, anyone who wants you to film them can be filmed close up. It's filming crowds and the general public that's questionable.


    Implicit in the regulations is the ability for CASA to waive the regs - to film random people from closer than 30m, I think you would have to get that waiver as part of your OC ... assuming you're doing it legally.

  • why are the approved operators allowed to fly within 30 meters? almost all their promo material shows them flying within meters of people. You might argue they received "permission" from the people, the council, CASA, whatever. But the rules dont say "with permission you can fly within 30m".

    heres an example - first one i found:  https://vimeo.com/71207520

    not trying to argue, just actually asking the question...

  • Hai, sub-2kg drones have a comparatively low consequence if they hit you - they're not likely to kill you.  However, they are still a hazard.  Constrain their operations so they're more than 30m away, not over populous areas, and below most air traffic, and you reduce the probability of hitting someone to the point that the overall risk is acceptable. 


    This isn't "deregulation" - CASA is still applying rules and penalties, its just removing a level of oversight from a small portion of the operator space.


    BTW, you're already tarred with the same brush as every hobbyist who's not following the rules :)  The guy in Geraldton was outside the current regs, and would have been outside the new regs as well.  If you don't think there's competition from the sub 2kg RPAS, then you've got nothing to worry about.  They also wont be doing real-estate or sports photography.


    Mike T, you don't need to start an online petition, just respond to the NPRM and say you support the proposal. 


  • CASA can't regulate everything including sub 2kg. They dont have the resources. So really there isnt any other option. Honestly you can't do much with sub 2kg apart from a gopro. So OC holders just need to adapt differentiate themselves in the market.

  • Moderator

    Mike all I am concerned about is be tarnished with the same brush as <2kg drones that hit triathletes in the head and crash into the harbour bridge and downtown Manhattan.  There is no way a <2kg drone like a Phantom with GoPro is going to produce better results than my aircraft carrying Canon 5d Mk3.

    If a certified operator is worried that they will lose business to a guy operating a phantom, then maybe they really don't deserve to be in business.


    Deregulation is good, but making it a free for all for <2kg and heavily regulated for 2.01kg+ is going to be harder to enforce.

  • ACOU do not care about safety. Their only agenda is to protect their interests, and the income they receive from commercial operators. Is anyone willing to start an online petition to support the sub 2Kg weight class?

  • This new rule is only to do with commercial operation or not. Therefore this is not a safety issue.

    Even without this rule, you can still legally go down to the shop and buy your UAV, even over 2kg.

    The rule is only saying "you can earn money - i.e. act commercially" under the exact same rules as private flying if it is < 2KG.

    Don't know about you, but even without new rules, I think I would trust the commercial operator more than the private pilot - and the rule is only effecting commercial pilots.

  • Moderator

    Coptercam, a CASA certified operator supports the deregulation of UAVs proposed in the NPRM.   Not sure how either the consumer or CASA is going to know if a person is operating a <2kg UAV. 

    I'm not sure why that if these <2kg are so harmless why they would put restrictions like non-populous areas and outside controlled airspace.  Now tell me how many non-commercial (hobby) users know how to determine controlled airspace.

    Deregulation is a good thing, however would it be too hard to ask that we deregulate for everyone not just <2kg and a very simple licence be issued if you can pass a simple exam (like your car driving or model aircraft wings exam) which assesses your ability to determine where controlled airspace is, what is a populous area, and simple safety questions?

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