Relaxed CASA drone rules come into effect

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Relaxed CASA drone rules come into effect

Cheaper, less red tape.

Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority has published new rules that make flying of unmanned aerial craft easier through fewer fees and regulations. 

From September 29, commercial drone operators with craft weighing less than 2kg will need only a remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) operator's certificate (ReOC) and to notify the authority.

Flights with unmanned aircraft over 2kg in weight require both a remote pilot licence (RPL) and the ReOC, CASA said.

Whereas previously the authority issued different types of RPA operator certificates depending on the type of craft, such as multi-rotor, fixed-wing or helicopter, it has now simplifed the process.

ReOCs will be authorised in the very small (100 gram to less than 2kg), small (2-25kg, in some cases no more than 7kg), medium (25 - 150kg) and large (over 150kg) classes.

Operators flying over their private land can, however, carry out commercial drone flights with small craft, weighing between two to 25kg, without the need for an ReOC or RePL.

Issued an RePL, they can also fly medium-weight drones (25 to 150kg) over their own properties without an ReOC.

Recreational model aircraft and drone pilots must keep the craft within eyesight and not fly closer than 30 metres to vehicles, boats, buildings and people. Flying over populated beaches, parks or sports ovals is forbidden, and on no account must the drone reach more than 120 metres above the ground in controlled airspace, which covers most Australian cities.

Hobbyist drone pilots are also requested to stay at least 5.5km away from airfields, aerodromes and helicopter landing pads, CASA said.

The new regulations mean that in some cases small commercial drone operators can avoid paying $1400 in regulatory fees and having to develop manuals and documentation to satisfy the authority's requirements.

CASA warned that despite the red tape cutting, the authority would still fine drone pilots who breach the civil aviation act and associated regulations.

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