An Australian drone-based aerial imaging business

Not legal yet in the US without a COA, but apparently allowed in Australia. FromMakezine:

The emerging story of entrepreneurs using drones to provide marketable services is fascinating to me. Small businesses have been making money by making drones themselves for quite awhile, now, but I’m just now starting to see start-ups using drones to sell services.

Aerial photography is maybe the most obvious opportunity—surveying real estate, covering sporting or other events, stalking celebrities, assessing damage after fires or other catastrophes—but there are also all kinds of potentially lucrative (and annoying) advertising and/or promotional possibilities. And that’s just scratching the surface of the possibilities of airborne drone-based services, never mind those of land-, water-, and underwater-going
varieties.

An interesting case in point is Australian Simon Jardine, whose bouncing baby drone business is called Eye in the Sky. Australia is prime country for private aerial imaging services, with its relatively low population density, ongoing development, and vast, open spaces. Jardine’s photography was recently featured in a (surprisingly upbeat) Atlantic article about drones and privacy issues, and he’s got a Flickr stream full of great drone photography. [via Boing Boing]

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Comment by Andrew Rabbitt on February 24, 2012 at 7:14pm

CASR101 has all the info.  There used to be some .pdf copies floating about the web, but I can't find them now.  You can dig it out from our guvmint's incredibly easy-to-use website here

Comment by Patric Millar on February 26, 2012 at 5:12pm

G'Day All

There has been a lot of discussion about this on the RC Forums recently.  The issue is the CASA regulations.  Basically if you want to charge even a single $$ for material that you've obtained from your UAV you are a "commercial operator".  Currently there are only 14 such operators in Australia.

The National Broadcaster the ABC recently ran a story on using UAV's for journalism.  Here's a link to their story :

ABC Story on UAV's

Here's the exact CASA Regulations:

CASA UAV Regulations

Summarised the CASA regulations state that you need an Operator Certificate.
13. OPERATOR CERTIFICATION
13.1 General
13.1.1 An operator intending to conduct commercial operations utilising UAVs must be the holder of an operating certificate (OC) issued under CASR Part 101. Guidelines for the  issue of OCs are shown at Appendix 3.

In order to become get the OC you need to spend between $20,000 and $30,000.  This is the process required for the OC:

101.295 Eligibility for certification as UAV controller
(1) Only an individual is eligible to be certificated as a UAV controller.
(2) A person is eligible to be certificated as a UAV controller if he or she:
(a) qualifies for the issue of a radio operator’s certificate of proficiency; and
(b) has been awarded a pass in an aviation licence theory examination (other than a flight radio operator’s examination); and
(c) has been awarded a pass in an instrument rating theory examination; and
(d) has completed a training course in the operation of the type of UAV that he or she proposes to operate, conducted by the UAV’s manufacturer; and
(e) has at least 5 hours experience in operating UAVs outside controlled airspace.
(3) A person who holds or has held:
(a) a flight crew licence with a command instrument rating; or
(b) a military qualification equivalent to a licence and rating mentioned in paragraph (a); or
(c) an air traffic control licence, or a military qualification equivalent to an air traffic control licence;

Add to that list developing operations manuals, a visit from CASA to make sure you can fly and then you need Public Liability Insurance.

However, here are rumours that CASA may well be going to change this. Until that happens the 14 operators have the market sewn up and those that aren't accrediated are risking a visit from CASA and a large fine.

P

Comment by Jeb Bailey on February 27, 2012 at 10:10am

Personally, I don't see any of these regulations as being unreasonable.  It seems that they address all the safety concerns  without being overly restrictive.  If the US could adopt these kind of regs, we'd be flying tomorrow.

Also, your figure of 20-30,000 seems way too high.  Admittedly I don't know how the CASA tests go, but to follow those qualifications in the US would cost you about $1000.  A the very most.

Comment by Patric Millar on February 27, 2012 at 2:51pm

Not wanting to dwell on the point.  The costing comes from a couple of people I know who are currently involved in the process.  The CASA visit alone is around $5,000 to come and watch you fly, the manuals are around the $3,500.  Then add pilots licence training at around $5,000, Public Liability insurance is $7,000.  Add these together and you are already over $20,000.  If CASA don't like your flying style, manuals etc then it very quickly runs to the $30,000 without any problems.

There are a couple of lengthy posts on the RC Forums from people involved in the process.  They will back the figures up.

There is no doubt that some form of regulation is required, but a commercial helicopter pilots licence to take a few snaps for the local Real Estate agent?  There must be a better way.


Moderator
Comment by Hai Tran on March 14, 2012 at 6:53am
I love Simons videos, however he certainly pushes the envelope in terms of conducting uav aerial photography without an Operator Certifate. I can confirm what Patric is saying about the costs and regulation concerning becoming licences as I have gone through that process and I am in the finish stage after 9 months work. I was lucky as I already had a pilot licence and my business partner had a commercial licence.

Whist regulation seems over the top, as both a model aircraft and real pilot I can see the point, whereas non pilots don't seem to understand things use real pilots get. Say your flying your UAV in Sydney. A real pilot understands that the 400ft limit is to prevent collision with light aircraft doing joy flights over the city. A real pilot knows how to tune into the ATIS at YSSY to find out which is the active runway and determine if their UAV is on an approach or departure path of a commercial aircraft.

Well some one who obviously didn't have his UAV crashed his Octo near a major airport.

If you want to play with the big boys your have got to be able to handle it.

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