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How to operate drones commercially in Australia

Australia is a global leader when it comes to effective licensing and regulation of commercial Remotely Pilot Aircraft System (RPAS) operations.

Developed by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) and covering both recreational and commercial operations, Australian drone laws are ever evolving as regulators strive to maintain control over the rapidly expanding, multi-billion-dollar industry.

The increasingly frequent release of new drone technologies combined with large scale and open public adoption has resulted in millions of pilots operating UAV’s in nearly every industry. It comes as no surprise then, that with situations like the Gatwick Airport incident becoming increasingly common that rules needed to be developed and enforced.

Drones Gatwick Airport

Recreational Operations

If you are flying for fun or just personal reasons, you don’t need a licence! Keep in mind however, that you will be much more restricted than a licensed commercial pilot. Flying commercially or for economic gain is illegal!

The CASA Flying Your Drone For Fun brochure provides detailed information about the rules affecting recreational pilots.

Commercial Operations

Now onto the important part. Chances are you are here because you are interested in flying drones commercially, so we’ll try and keep this as simple as possible.

Lets start with the take-off-weight of your drone:
  1. If you are flying a drone that has a take-off weight less than 2kg (like the DJI Mavic Pro 2) you can operate without a Licence. However, you must operate within the operational restrictions set out by CASA
  2. If you want to fly outside of the restrictions mentioned above or are flying a drone that has a take-off weight between 2kg and 7kg (Like the DJI Inspire 2) you will require a Remote Pilot’s Licence (RePL)
  3. If you want to fly a drone heavier than 7kg but less than 25kg (such as the Matrice 600) you will require an RePL (up to 7kg), AND a Heavy Lift endorsement

Type of Licences

Now that we understand the licensing requirements of different Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS), its time to look at the different types of Licenses and certifications.

Remote Pilots Licence (RePL)

The remote pilot’s licence is the most basic licence required by commercial pilots. A remote pilot licence (RePL) is your individual permission to fly. It allows you to fly for or be employed by a certified operator. This is the holder of a remotely pilot aircraft (RPA) operator’s certificate, or ReOC. On its own, a RePL does not grant you additional operational benefits, opportunities or indemnities when compared to someone flying in the sub 2kg category. It must be used in conjunction with a ReOC.

This form of licence is ideal for someone looking to join an existing drone company as a pilot.

Remote Operator’s Certificate (ReOC)

All businesses that utilize drones for commercial gain must hold a Remote Operators Certificate (ReOC). Only one ReOC is required per business and all pilots that operate for the business are bound but the procedure, exemptions and endorsements contained within the document.

A remote operators certificate is required by anyone looking to integrate drones into their current business operations or start their own RPAS business.

In summary, the above content sums up how to operate your drone commercially in Australia. If you’re looking to become a commercial drone operator, take a look out our available course packages. We offer training in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide, Cairns, Hobart.

Other Useful Information

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Australian Association for Unmanned Systems (AAUS)

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