Australia’s aviation regulator has unveiled new rules and requirements for commercial drone operators as it continues to revamp the country’s drone laws.
The Civil Aviation Safety Authority has launched Part 101 (Unmanned Aircraft and Rockets) Manual of Standards 2019, an update to rules made in 2001 for unmanned aircraft and rockets, long before drones had hit the mainstream.
The new rules and requirements will primarily impact commercial and professional drone operators and pilots, and most of the changes will not be implemented for more than a year.
The manual outlines new technical requirements for those looking to operate drones in a commercial or professional capacity, and centre on training and certification.
It follows the announcement of a new registration and licencing scheme for recreational drone flyers.
Two of the new rules for commercial drone operators will come into effect immediately.
The first introduces specific requirements for the approval of the operation of a drone when the pilot cannot see the aircraft -- extended visual line of sight operations.
“The certified RPA operator must have documented practices and procedures, relevant staff must have successfully completed the prescribed training, and other safety requirements must be complied with before CASA will grant an approval,” the manual said.
The other law to come into immediate effect surrounds the use of a drone in a controlled airspace, and a requirement to ensure there is a “buffer” between the device and the controlled space above it.
This new requirement “provides sufficient protection for conventionally piloted aircraft operations and flexibility for certified RPA operators in the vicinity of controlled aerodromes with general alleviations for indoor operations and tethered operations”.
Commercial pilots can now receive approval for an operation within no-fly areas of a non-controlled aerodrome under specific conditions.
Other rules to come into force in 12 months include training and competency standards for remote pilot licences and standing approvals for certain kinds of flights near aerodromes.
In 18 months, there will be new requirements for commercial drone pilot instructors, too.
The new rules are the result of feedback received by CASA during public consultations conducted late last year, with changes made to the transition dates, examination requirements and rules made around tethering.
The new rules follow the announcement of a new “flyer’s licence” for recreational drone pilots, which will be mandatory from July. Pilots will have to be accredited by CASA and pass an online education course.
Drones must be registered drone, making it easier for police to track rogue operators.
The registration is expected to cost $20 annually per person for recreational drones and some model aircraft operators.
The rise in popularity of drones, both commercially and recreationally, have forced governments and regulators to reassess how they are policed to ensure safety. There have been particular concerns over the use of drones in restricted areas such as airports, and privacy issues with the use of drones in heavily populated areas.