The use of drones is soaring to new heights, particularly as their cost has decreased. However, if you break the rules, you can be hit with thousands of dollars in fines.
Operating a drone must be done in accordance with safety rules formulated by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA). If you don’t hold a remote pilot licence and instead use a drone for fun this is everything you need to know.
The overarching principle is that you should not operate your drone in a manner that causes a hazard to another aircraft, property or a person.
An out of control drone can cause all sorts of drama, including cranky neighbours and car accidents.
The rules state:
- You must not fly the drone higher than 120 metres above the ground
- You must not fly the drone within 30 metres of people (unless they are controlling or navigating the drone)
- You must not fly the drone around an area affecting public safety or where there is an emergency (eg a car crash)
- You can only fly one drone at a time
- You can only fly the drone during the day
- Your drone must be within your line of sight at all times
- You must not fly over or above people (eg at a busy park or beach, at a sporting event)
- If your drone weighs more than 100 grams, you cannot fly it within 5.5 kilometres of a controlled airport if aircraft are operating to/from the airport.
You also need to be aware that there are some restricted areas you will be unable to fly your drone. For example, some local councils have made regulations banning drones in some public places, including large parts of the airspace above Sydney Harbour.
CASA will investigate complaints if you consider someone has breached the above rules. You should provide CASA with proof of the breach (such as photos of the person operating the drone). They can issue fines of up to $900 or, if the matter proceeds to court, a fine of up to $9,000 can be issued.
CASA will not investigate any complaints about invasion of privacy.
However, you should respect people’s privacy and not photograph or record people without their consent. Any breaches can be reported to the police as anti-stalking laws may apply.
The free ‘Can I Fly There’ App outlines all of your local ‘no drone zones’ and more information can be obtained at CASA.
Alison and Jillian Barrett are both principals at Maurice Blackburn Lawyers. You can see their Facebook page here.