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.


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


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

Views: 1626

Comment by JB on March 30, 2016 at 8:37pm

Hi Chris

True. UOC operators now need to focus on the service business model more, were potential clients are only interested in the results and not operating because it's cool to fly a drone... and from October also legal to do it for money.

From what I can tell there isn't a requirement that the owner also operates the RPA, only that the ownership of both property and RPA is clear. So an employee could potentially fly too (which makes sense for big farmers etc to establish realms of responsibility). This means a lease agreement of the RPA which includes an "external" operator should also be possible as a business model.

Comment by Chris on March 30, 2016 at 8:41pm

Hi Daryl,

That's my interpretation too, if an operator can take control then it's ok for flight.  So waypoint flights within visual LOS are fine.  Those that are BVLOS and fully autonomous require CASA approval still, which is fair enough in my eyes.

What they are avoiding is those that may want to sell a turn key solution that is it takes off, scans the mine or farm and then lands.  Repeat every hour with no human involved in the piloting.  Or take off, fly 20kms away and land, pickup package and return.  CASA wants to be involved in approving those sorts of operations until it's proven safe, that way they can add additional conditions as required.  Take the UAVChallenge as a good example.


Comment by Chris on March 31, 2016 at 4:48am

Hi @Darius,

Our regulations here do not require RPA's under 25kg's to undergo any checks at all.  From 25kg's to 150kg's (I recall it being 150kg - might be 125, cant remember the exact figure) it requires an inspection to be done.  The parts will be looked at to determine if they are suitable for that application.  If the manufacturer says they are good for that and no information to counter that then they are treated as good.  Higher than 150kgs requires much more checking and parts need to be looked at much more closely.

Rather than asking Tridge to talk to our minister, why dont you read our regulation and see for yourself.  No need for anyone to talk to the Minister they wouldn't have any direct knowledge of this stuff anyway, they will go off what their agency recommends unless it sound crazy - then they'll put forward their view.  We happen to have a great regulator who understands the potential of RPA's, unlike other governments who have a more restrictive approach.

Australia has 18+ years of commercial ops and fosters innovation rather than stifling it.

Comment by Steve Monro on April 3, 2016 at 4:08am

I can see this legislation as a great thing for small business operators who now won't have to go and fork out over $3-4k for a course, 'cause it means I will be able to start charging for aerial work (if I so desire) and do it legally. And... for the consumer drones, as someone said, this will create opportunities for drone operators.

But, I think that you will also get what you pay for, as Chris said earlier. Shooting on a DLSR, or even filming raw 6k on a RED or a BM camera is very specialist, (regardless if you are on a drone), and so you should expect to be registered and have a qualified operator doing that kind of filming. You wouldn't be using a Phantom or Solo for this stuff. Cinema stuff is a different ball game...

As a drone operator around the 2kg weight range, I would be happy to do a course of some sort, if not an introduction or a basic level of official training (regardless of my current skill set) - if they exist. I had been working in broadcast radio for several years (still do now too), and while there is a bachelor of broadcasting of a 3 year course, I went and did an Introduction to radio for about 10 weeks. I knew nearly everything in the course, but it was still at least some formal industry recognition of a skill set. Just some thoughts. I'd like to see that happen for the drone world. :)

If it was me and I'd done the full week course to take video, or stills, I'd be a bit peeved. I am glad the Aussie government is moving forward in this area on a practical level though. Well done CASA.


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