Ten Drone-Flying Laws Australians Need To Know

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As more affordable options have entered the market in recent years, the number of drone owners in Australia has dramatically increased.

But are there any laws or regulations surrounding drone usage? Absolutely, and if you're a drone user it's best to know them so you don't accidentally get fined.

The rules surrounding drone piloting comes courtesy of the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA). They have been in place since 2002 and apply to non-commercial drone piloting. In other words, its for us regular joes who aren't making money from it.

If you do plan to profit from your drone, you need a license and can find out how to go about it right here.

It's worth noting that commercial use doesn't just include direct payment for a service. For example, monetised YouTube videos also counts as being a commercial, so all you content creators out there should think about getting a license too.

However, there is a way around this. If your drone weighs under 2kg it is considered to be part of an 'excluded category'. All you need to do is apply for an aviation reference number and inform CASA before you fly.

Otherwise, here are the rules that you need to follow if you plan on taking your drone out just for fun or to take some sweet shots for Instagram.

  • Only fly during the day and keep your drone within visual line-of-sight. This means seeing it with your own eyes, rather than through a device, at all times.
  • You can't fly it higher than 120 metres (400ft) above the ground.
  • You must keep your drone at least 30 metres away from other people.
  • You can't fly over or near an area affecting public safety or where emergency operations are underway without prior approval. For example - a car crash, police operations, a fire or search and rescue operation.
  • You can only fly one at a time.
  • You must not fly over or above people. For example - beaches, parks, events, or sport ovals where there is a game in progress.
  • If your drone weighs more than 100g, you must keep at least 5.5km away from controlled aerodromes.
  • You can't operate a drone in a way that is hazardous to another aircraft, person or property.
  • You have to respect personal privacy and not record or photograph people without their consent.

State-based environmental laws also prohibit drone pilots from flying an RPA within 300 metres of marine mammals. This includes dolphins and whales. They're serious about it too, with fines ranging from $300 to $110,000.

It's also worth investigating if there are any council or National Park laws and regulations that prohibit drones in an area you want to fly in, just to be safe.

If you're unsure of where you can fly, CASA also have a conveniently titled app, Can I Fly There, to help. It's available for both Android and iOS.

Happy flying!

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Comments

    Is the distance "30m away from other people" the horizontal distance or just the total distance?

    A drone could be hovering 5m to the side of someone and 30m up in the air and it would be more than "30m away" and also "not over or above". So would this comply?

      Probably best to consult CASA and not the article author.

    The distance from whales for NSW is 100m for RPAs - not 300m. Biodiversity Conservation Regulation 2017 (Section 2.3). Also the Can I Fly There app is next to useless as it does not indicate if restricted airspace is active, merely that it exists.

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