drone remote control
Is Sky The Limit? 6 Legal Issues Drone Users Must Consider
April 6, 2017
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Is it Legal to Fly My Quadcopter in Australia?

Drone and Buildings

So, what are the rules?

Is it legal to fly my quadcopter in Australia?

That seems to be one of the first questions we're asked. The straight answer according to the CASA (Civil Aviation Safety Authority) is that it is illegal to fly an RPA (Remote Piloted Aircraft) for commercial use without an approved license. The same applies in the United States, UK and most of Europe. That said, it is legal to fly a toy or hobby RPA provided you use some common sense and abide by the rules set out by the CASA as per below.

  • You may not fly closer than 30m to vehicles, boats, buildings that are not on your private property or you must have explicit permission from the private property owner.
  • You are not allowed to fly over any populated areas such as beaches, other people’s backyards, heavily populated parks or sports ovals where there is a game on.
  • You may not operate within a radius of 5.5km of any aerodrome, airfield, airport, seaplanes taking off or landing, helicopter landing sites which may be located at hospitals, police stations or other locations that you may not be aware of. It is your responsibility to find out where they are and ignorance is no defense in the court of law.
  • You may only operate during daylight – no night flying. Only in good weather and you must be in visual line-of-site of the RPA.
  • You may not fly above 123 metres
  • You may not fly FPV (First Person View).

Other than the Ceerson CX-20 or the equivalently spec’d DJI Phantom our drones would be considered toys. They are only capable of flight up to 150 metres from the controller and are only pilotable with a good line of sight. They are very susceptible to wind and anything greater than a gentle breeze would render these drones uncontrollable, particularly at altitude. To that end, using a bit of common sense it would be hard to break the law flying a toy drone.

However, if you are a real estate agent or photographer for example, you will usually not be able to conform with the above conditions and will therefor require a UAV Operator Certificate (UOC) which is the CASA certificate to operate legally.

Rules regarding drones in Commonwealth national parks

Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is a Commonwealth reserve established under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act) to manage the environment of the region for the benefit of all people, present and future. The Director of National Parks, also established EPBC Regulations under the EPBC Act to manage activities such as use of remote control drones.

Under the EPBC Regulations the following is relevant to remote control drones:

  1. A remote control drone is defined as an “aircraft” under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 2000.
  2. Under the EPBC Regulations it is an offence to taxi, land or take off an aircraft in a Commonwealth Reserve except in a landing area designated in a determination made the Director of National Parks.
  3. Under the EPBC Regulations it is also an offence to cause a remote controlled device to fly or land in a Commonwealth Reserve

So due to this information you are unable to fly drones in any Commonwealth national park. This includes:

  1. Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
  2. Kakadu National Park
  3. Booderee National Park

For more information on Quadcopters click here: Just Drones