CASA’S Cutting red tape for remotely piloted aircraft

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On April 23, 2016, Posted by , In Latest News, With Comments Off on CASA’S Cutting red tape for remotely piloted aircraft

Part 101 Amendments 2016

CASA is pleased to announce amendments to Part 101 have been registered on the Federal Register of Legislation and will come into effect 29 September 2016.

These amendments reduce the cost and legal requirements for lower-risk remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) operations. More complex operational matters will be dealt with in a new manual of standards to be developed with industry, providing greater flexibility and responsiveness in this rapidly evolving area.

This regulation updates terminology to align with the International Civil Aviation Organization. In particular, the term unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) now becomes RPA. Over time, CASA forms and processes will reflect these changes.

The amendments to Part 101 create new weight classifications for RPA:

  • very small (<2 kg)
  • small (2-25kg)
  • medium (25-150kg)
  • large (>150kg)

Excluded RPA

The regulation also introduces the concept of excluded RPA, representing RPA operations considered to be lower risk. These operations will have reduced regulatory requirements, such as not needing a UAV operator’s certificate (UOC) now called a remotely piloted aircraft operator’s certificate or ReOC or a remote pilot licence (RePL).

From 29 September 2016, commercial operators flying very small RPAs, weighing fewer than two kilograms, will not require an ReOC or an RePL. Operators will only have to provide one notification to CASA at least five days before their first commercial flight and operate by the standard operating conditions.

The excluded RPA concept also allows private landowners to carry out some commercial-like operations on their own land with a small RPA without needing an ReOC or an RePL, provided they follow the standard operating conditions and none of the parties involved receive remuneration.

An operator flying a medium RPA in the excluded category must hold an RePL.

Table 1 – Excluded Operations

Excluded Operation RePL ReOC
Very small commercial No No
Small private landowner No No
Medium private landowner Yes No

*Please note that excluded RPA operators cannot apply for further exemptions.

The new regulations also establish a set of standard operating conditions specific to these excluded RPAs.

The standard RPA operating conditions will be:

  1. You must only fly during the day and keep your RPA within visual line-of sight.
  2. You must not fly your RPA higher than 120 metres (400ft) AGL.
  3. You must keep your RPA at least 30 metres away from other people
  4. You must keep your RPA at least 5.5km away from controlled aerodromes
  5. You must not fly your RPA over any populous areas. These can include: beaches, parks and sporting ovals.
  6. You must not fly your RPA over or near an area affecting public safety or where emergency operations are underway (without prior approval).
    1. This could include situations such as a car crash, police operations, a fire and associated firefighting efforts and search and rescue.
  7. You can only fly one RPA at a time.

Autonomous flight is prohibited under the amendments. CASA is still developing suitable regulations for autonomous flight. However, there is scope for CASA to approve autonomous flight on a case-by-case basis.

These changes do not take effect until 29 September 2016, when a full range of forms, guidance and notification system will be available.

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