CASA UAV (Drone) Regulations Relaxed

What does this really mean?

In a nutshell, you are no longer required to obtain a licence or have a UOC (UAV Operator Certificate) for operating UAVs 2 kg or less for commercial operations (for payment or reward). The only requirements are to be registered with an ARN (Aviation Reference Number) and to notify CASA via an online form a minimum of 5 days prior to the intended work. 24 months approval is granted almost instantly.

Now, if everyone obeyed the rules then this relaxing of regulations may be ok. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen as rules are adhered to, based on convenience.

So with little knowledge, a simple application and minimal financial outlay; anyone has access to airspace.

The penalties for not following the rules, are minimal, if caught.

How does this impact Airspace?

One could be forgiven for thinking a RPA 2kg or less would not do much damage. Consider though, 2kg descending rapidly from a great height, plus at least 4 rotors (possibly some spinning) and the element of surprise to its unsuspecting target.
The implications for operating outside of these rules can be catastrophic.

Take, for example, a Drone flying into the path of an unsuspecting aircraft.

Airline Pilots and Air Traffic Controllers are dealing with nuisance Drones (UAVs, RPAs) into unauthorized airspace daily. Hazard Alerts are issued for Drones observed well above the maximum regulation flying height (400’) as witnessed in Figure 1. and on approach paths to runways, and generally within 3nm (5.5km) of Controlled Aerodromes (i.e. Sydney and Melbourne).

YSSY ATIS 02/10/2016

Figure 1. YSSY ATIS 02/10/2016

The danger of a Drone hitting an Aircraft is real.
Control surfaces can be damaged, pilots can be distracted during a high workload phase of flight whilst close to the ground in the landing and takeoff phase.

Take a look at the video of what happens if a Drone hits an engine. It causes a catastrophic failure and can endanger lives on board and on the ground.


So, what can we do about it?

Senator Barry O’Sullivan touched on a couple of ideas in his article in The Australian (12 Oct 16).

My colleagues and I have also come up with a few ideas:

  • All UAV operators (Commercial and Recreational) obtain a licence. The licencing of recreational UAV pilots to involve a short online theory exam involving the rules and regulations applicable (similar to a Driver’s Licence Exam);
  • Registration of all UAV aircraft. This is as simple as submitting an online notification of the Serial number and allocate it to your personal ARN;
  • Increase the penalties to ensure it is an unattractive venture if unlicenced and unregistered.
  • Move more in line with the FAA rules.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently announced its first official rules (Part 107) for commercial use of small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). These guidelines were created to ensure safety between drones and other aircraft and creating “balance between innovation and safety”, said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx

Part 107’s highlights:


  • You must be 16 or older to operate the drone
  • You need to have a remote pilot airman certificate (drone pilot certificate) with a small UAS rating, or be under the supervision of someone with this certificate
  • You have to take a knowledge test at an FAA-approved testing centre
  • You have to register a drone before using it
  • Drone owners agree to give their UAS to the FAA for inspection if requested
  • Owners agree to let the FAA know if flying their drone results in property damage, loss of consciousness, or injury of $500 or more.


  • Registration is now mandatory as of December 21, 2015
  • If your drone is between .55 and 55 pounds (25kg), you must register it online before using it
  • Drones cost $5 to register for three years
  • You must be 13 years or older to own a drone
  • When you register, you’ll need to provide your name, email, and address
  • After registering, you’ll need to place your unique identification number on your drone (issued by FAA). Not registering will cost you. Expect to pay civil fines up to $27,500 and criminal fees up to $250,000. You may also face up to three years in prison.

Safety is of utmost importance.

The fact is that UOC holders are heavily regulated which makes a mockery of the system when any person on the street can purchase a UAV, online or shop front and fly it as soon as the battery is charged, without any training, knowledge or thought of consequences.

We’ve created a petition to start the ball rolling. Please sign and support this cause.

Do we need to wait for a major accident or incident for a review of the recent changes? by Techenstein

Written by Michelle Huntington