All Australian drone users will have to obtain a “flyer’s licence” and register their devices under new rules to come into effect in July.
The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) last week unveiled a new registration and licences scheme for drones in Australia.
Under the new scheme, anyone who wants to fly a drone that weighs more than 250 grams, whether commercially or recreationally, will have to be accredited.
To obtain this, a user will have to complete an online education course of basic flying rules, watch a video and complete a quiz afterwards.
This course is estimated to take about 15 minutes for most people to finish.
The new scheme will allow Australian authorities to track the number of drones in the skies and where they are flying.
CASA spokesperson Peter Gibson told ABC News that it will help to crack down on people misusing the new technologies.
“It will certainly give us big advantages in terms of complaints or reports of drones being flown improperly or against the safety rules,” Gibson said. “We’ll have a starting point to know who flies drones in that area, what sort of drone they fly.
“For the first time we’ll have an overall picture of the drone sector...probably there are tens of thousands, possibly even 100,000, but at this point we don’t know.”
The registration costs will vary by the purpose of the flying and size of the device. It’s estimate that it will cost $20 annually per person for recreational drones, and up to $160 annually for commercial drones.
The scheme will be phased in, and recreational users will have until November to obtain accreditation and register their drones.
Drone flyers under the age of 16 years old will need to be supervised by someone over 18 years old who has accreditation.
The new scheme comes out of consultations conducted by CASA earlier this year.
It’s expected to help with the enforcement of drone safety rules in Australia, which can have accompanying penalties of up to $10,500.
The federal government has backed the new scheme, with the recommendation arising from a Senate Standing Committee on Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport inquiry.
The committee recommended that a mandatory registration regime be implemented, and that all operators should be required to complete a “basic competence test”.
It comes after an incident in Western Australia last month where waterboming aircraft were forced to be grounded because of drones flying nearby.
Two drones were spotting flying near the Shire of Esperance, with the suspension of the aircraft preventing an estimated 100,000 litres of water from being dropped on the fires.
A multi-agency investigation has now been launched into the incident, and the owners of the drones are yet to be found.
Do you fly drones? What do you think of the new licence scheme? We’d love to hear from you!