CASA looking into drones in Australia


I copied this from a news article on nineMSN (link to article below)... Once again the key concern appears to be people looking into other peoples back yards... I haven't seen anyone draw attention to the potential danger in having a cowboy crash into a crowd, into traffic or destroy property... just record hi-res images of their p**ed off neighbor in their back yard...

For every mini drone that Australia's air safety watchdog knows about there are two that escape its notice.

Officials from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) told a Senate Estimates hearing on Wednesday how difficult it was to regulate drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that weigh less than seven kilograms and can be purchased easily online from overseas.

CASA director of aviation safety John McCormick told the hearing the commercial drone industry had doubled in the past year with licence holders jumping from 15 to 38.

There were also 12 applications in the pipeline.

They expect overall figures to double again next year.

Regulations are being reviewed.

He said current regulations did not envisage the explosion in numbers among the low weight octocopters that can be ordered online and sometimes carry high fidelity cameras.

There are privacy concerns that mini drones could be used to spy on people in their backyards.

"We are now looking at trying to regulate them," Mr McCormick said.

"I would dare say that for every UAS (unmanned aircraft system) we know exists there are most probably two that we don't know of."

Mr McCormick said the difficulty was that when someone reported the mini drones being flown, by the time CASA is able to get there, the person has gone.

"It's almost impossible to track who it is," he said.

CASA reviewing drones

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  • You know that it's not so much about regulation than it is about keeping track of operators and limiting their use.
    They want to be able to use these drones to keep the public under surveillance, they don't want the public keeping an eye on them. That's pretty much it in a nutshell. They're not going to relax the requirements for licensing for this very reason.

    The police have been confiscating equipment from people because they don't have an operator's certificate.

  • @Gary, you might be right.  but in a years time what new tech might be available that we might want to integrate into our platforms?   perhaps downward looking radar, more complex computers?  Perhaps carrying some payloads of some sort?  

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    @Jesse wait a year and all the stuff you want to do will be possible with lighter cameras/batteries/motors etc etc.

    Be thankful there is a way to operate the USA is still awaiting airframe standards and the committee tasked to do that has not come up with a single standard in 7 years. Then don't get me started on the FAA Test Sites, the place you will need to take your gear to be sorted out. 

    Look at it this way, if you live in Australia, Canada or the UK you have a chance to get onto a national qualification scheme which will have international recognition. As other countries open up you will be able to walk in with a ticket and carry on. If I lived in the USA I would goto one of those countries and get that bit of paper. 

    As I always say though I can't see how they can't avoid a CB radio type thing where the FCC caved and just let it happen with fines.

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    @MikeT The written exams for PPL are not rocket science and worth doing. @Andrew yes I agree and its probably the attitude they will have to take in the USA. People are going to say well, how will they ever find me I'm going to do it anyway. On the table in France for illegal UA ops, a Euro 75k fine and or 1 years prison. That is what I expect to roll out around the world big punishments. Folks flying in the face of regulation (yes pun intended) will have to consider if its worth the risk and aviation authorities will pick a couple of folks a year to hang out to dry to drive the point home.

  • I think that 'lighter' should actually be a much heavier category, 4-5kg.  my hexa in flight trim weighs in at nearly 3kg  and I'd like to think that I could privately fly a reasonable sized octa before having to worry about falling into a 'professional' category...


    I really think that there should be an open forum with CASA to discuss the requirements; perhaps a simple licensing scheme like a the motorbike licensing scheme whereby you spend two days with an instructor demonstrating that you can deal promptly with emergency situations and demonstrate that you can fly, program and safety check your equipment.  I don't think that there needs to be any requirement beyond that quite honestly.  you're not carrying passengers in these things, nor should you ever be flying them in 'full sized' airspace, risk is to persons and property only.


    I too like the bike analogy, but I guess it doesn't help much that I think cyclists should be licensed and token fee charged to cover their use of the road.  it would be a good experience for kids to teach them the importance of gaining the correct license for their vehicles in later life, a great opportunity to make sure that all cyclists know the road rules, and give a means for them to be properly held to account when doing the wrong thing... but that's another story entirely...

  • @Mike T,

    Yes, the relevant exams are the theoretical (i.e. written) part of the PPL.  No requirement for an actual PPL.

    As per Monroe's analogy, a knowledge of the road rules is useful for riding a bike, but a full drivers licence is somewhat pointless.

  • Not at all Monroe, it has been a very worthwhile discussion, and your bike/car analogy is superb.

    @Gary, yes I think I have heard about relaxed requriements for lighter UAS.  I am not sure how I feel about this.  I think CASA might be taking the approach that they cannot enforce the rules for small UAS, so they should make the rules less onerous and easier to follow.  Harm minimisation.

  • andrew


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    @Andrew I also thought Monroes bicycle analogy was genius 

  • Monroe, I think we are probably in agreement on this.

    You gave a beautiful analogy earlier about riding a bike versus driving a car.  You don't need a driving licence to ride a bike, but knowing the road rules is a very good idea if you want to live to old age.

    Operating a UAV is similar, IMHO.  The Australian requirements for obtaining an OC include the PPL written exam, and I think this is entirely reasonable, and akin to knowing the road rules if you want to ride a bike.

    The class 2 medical isn't so onerous, and represent little more than the care that should be provided at a regular medical checkup anyway.


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