New Rules Proposed by CASA

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THOUSANDS of Australians would have to register their drones like they register their cars, and face on-the-spot fines for breaking flight rules under strict new laws being considered by the government and supported by aviation authorities and drone makers.

And the tough regulations, similar to those enforced overseas, would even apply to some of the smallest drones and to drone pilots who fly the gadgets for fun rather than profit.

The news came as market leader DJI officially launched two new flying machines in Australia yesterday, which experts said were likely to cause a new swarm of gadgets hovering over Australian beaches this summer.

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The new drones released by DJI comes with a 20-megapixel, zoom lens camera Picture: Supplied
The new drones included the first with an advanced, 20-megapixel Hasselblad camera, and the first folding drone with a zoom lens, which experts said could help pilots keep drones a safe distance from their subjects.

DJI communications director Kevin On said the Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom drones would also feature better obstacle avoidance and quieter operation, and their larger camera sensor and optical zoom would help photographers be more creative.

“It’s going to enable a whole new genre of photo storytelling and what we can do with drones,” Mr On said.

But future drone purchases could also come with new rules in Australia after a parliamentary report into their use recommended all drones over 250g be registered with the Civil Aviation and Safety Authority, that pilots undergo mandatory safety tests, and that law enforcement agencies be allowed to issue on-the-spot fines for users doing the wrong thing.

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Experts are concerned drones will be hovering above Aussie beaches through the warmer months. Picture: Toby Zerna
Fines for breaking drone laws, such as flying within 30m of people or within 5.5km of an airport, range from $1000 to $10,000, and more than 30 have been issued so far this year.

CASA spokesman Peter Gibson said the Authority would wait for the government’s response to the recommendations but it was also “well advanced” in creating its own registration scheme to apply to Australia’s estimated 150,000 drone users.

At present the practicalities of policing drone use is still under development.

“We’ve been looking at potential registration for recreational drones and, as part of that registration process, some sort of online training component,” he said.

“If something happens and the drone crashes, for example, under this system you could then match the drone with the drone owner, so it does make enforcement action easier.”

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Fines for breaking drone laws can be as much as $10,000, but authorities have had trouble enforcing them. Picture: Supplied
Despite the growing number of drones sold and flown in Australia, CASA currently had to rely on reports from the public and police, as well as evidence posted on social media to track down drone pilots breaking the law.

The parliamentary report also recommended airworthiness standards for drones sold in Australia, mandatory failsafes such as emergency landing and return-to-home features, and banning drones from flying over “significant public buildings”.

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Australians would have to register their drones like they register their cars, and face on-the-spot fines if laws under consideration are implemented. Picture: Supplied
DJI policy head Adam Welsh said the major drone manufacturer supported the recommendations, though cautioned that authorities should make it easy and inexpensive to register drones.

“With registration, you finally start to have a way to find out who was flying that drone and I think that’s important,” he said.

“The next step now is how CASA and the rest of government decide to respond and hopefully they’ll take on these recommendations in a way that is easy to comply with and encourages people to get on board.”

The new Australian drone rules would follow similar laws in the US, where the Federal Aviation Administration has registered more than one million drones, and in the UK, where pilots must register their drones by November 30, 2019.

CAN YOU PASS OUR NEW PRE-FLIGHT DRONE TEST?
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PROPOSED NEW DRONE RULES FOR AUSTRALIA
- Drones over 250g must be registered

- Mandatory safety tests for registered drone pilots

- Law enforcement bodies able to issue on-the-spot fines for unsafe drone use

- A tiered drone education system where users must pass a test to buy a drone

- No drones allowed above ‘significant public buildings’ or ‘critical infrastructure’

- Mandatory failsafes including return-to-home and forced landing features

- Centralised research facility into drone incidents, trends, registration, and operation
 
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They say, like the US, They are pulling the wool over your eyes trying to make you swallow a bitter pill. A 1,00 to 10,000 fine. That's cruel. I stay away from crowds of people, but still fly around a few. I fly the beaches over the dunes or find a spot where I can get to the ocean between the people.

Mandatory safety tests for registered drone pilots. NO, not in the US.

- A tiered drone education system where users must pass a test to buy a drone. NO

- Mandatory failsafes including return-to-home and forced landing features.
The new Australian drone rules would follow similar laws in the US, NO

You have to be tested and licensed to drive a car, truck and motorcycle. There aren't those kind of crazy fines that start at a 1,000? Land vehicles kill and maim a lot of people. How many drones per 1,000 have killed or maimed people?
 
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The registration and licensing I can cop- it’s no surprise really... Perhaps they could include a mandatory bond (nothing prohibitive, say $5k) that goes into an interest bearing deposit with the government and is refundable if and when you surrender your licence. Interest on the bond would be returned to the licence holder annually and the bond would provide for public liability insurance cover. If flying legally a claim against the insurance would have no impact, clear demonstrated recklessness by the operator would result in the bond being forfeited.

I don’t like the idea of the forced landing feature. I don’t trust DJI to get the database right and the idea of a forced landing when unknowingly flying near a facility determined as sensitive might present more of a hazard than a soulution.
 
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It's a sign of the times. If everyone would act with common sense and morals a lot of regulation would be avoided but that's not the case anymore. With these "toys" going farther, higher, and so much easier to fly more people who don't have a vested interest in being safe, smart, moral are taking to the skies.

While I agree you can not "Regulate Stupid" simply requiring some degree of education will go a long way to helping to avoid many of the problems we are seeing. I'm astonished by the number of people I talk with day in and day out who consider themselves "knowledgeable" sUAS operators who don't know what the most basic of rules are and who don't know how/where to look them up. Mention TFR in many circles and you'll get those "Deer in the headlights" look and the sound of "crickets". If someone doesn't know what a TFR is or how to see if any are active how in the world are they going to fly safely? That's just one example.

I would like to see a tiered system here in the US of A.

1) If the aircraft can't fly over 100'AGL and no farther than 300' horizontally (like those you buy in the center court at the mall) then no license needed. If they fly beyond their range (couple hundred feet) they lose signal, power down, and tumble to terra firma.

2) If it can go beyond those mins but it NOT used for any Commercial endeavor then some sort of Entry Level license is needed just to say "Hey this person has read the rules, taken this 50 question test, and can no longer say I DIDN'T KNOW THAT." It could be a simple online test like the one Part 61 operators take to get their Part 107 without all the extra Aeronautical stuff.

Also anyone above this Entry level of Cert would be required to take an actual Flight Proficiency test to demonstrate you CAN operate an sUAS to the level of your Certification.

3) If for Basic Commercial (make sure $$ is NOT the main determining factor of Commercial) but fairly small aircraft and simple operations (Real Estate etc) then a Level 1 Comm Cert that's similar to the current Part 107.

4) If flying larger/faster more complex system or if flying for Emergency Services then you'd need a Level 2 Comm Cert that has more knowledge testing in accordance to what is expected in the Real World scenario. This level of Cert should also include a MIN# of flight hours as PIC.

5) Specific actions like AG Spraying, Industry Inspections etc would require yet another level of Cert to demonstrate the pilot is able to perform the precision flight required and knowledge for those types of special industry.

Just my 2 cents :)
 

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Some great points - that original article was written by a journalist in local Australian press (reference omitted by OP) whom imho used some creative licence with facts vs opinions, but the topic is certainly under review.
 
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Here's an example of what was posted on another forum as to what Spain requires for their Commercial (repeat COMMERCIAL) sUAS operations:

............ Here you first have to pass an exhaustive medical examination. Exactly the same as the pilots of manned aircraft. EKGs, blood and urine drug tests, and countless other things. If you don't pass, you can't even take the course.

The course is 7 days of morning and afternoon classes. When I did it, it was mandatory that they were all face-to-face, now a large part of the theoretical part can be done online. Then there's the practical part. Each chapter is examined in writing. Then practice is done and a practical exam is done as well.

There are different tests for fixed wing, helicopter and multi-rotors. In order to pass the practical multirotor test, you must do the following:

Vertical take-off followed by a 10-second stationary flight at pilot's eye level.
Fast and leveled S-flight translation forward with course changes.
Slow and leveled forward flight with changes of course.
Slow flight in level backward translation.
A translational flight at a height of 10 m on both sides
From 10 meters high, a 360-degree turn to the right down to a height of 5 meters
From 10 meters high a 360 degree left turn down to 5 meters high
Rectangular circuit forward landing in front of the pilot
One S on both sides with 4 turns at 10 m height.
.
.
.
.

By the time we finished the course, at least they'd had a minimum of practice. Sort of like when you get your driver's license. You can't drive well, but at least you have a minimum base. With drones, it should be the same. There is a test for each type of aircraft and then by weight. From 0 to 5kg, from 5 to 15kg, from 15 to 25 and more than 25kg to 150kg which is the maximum without having to register the drone. From over 25kg you have to get the advanced Drone Pilot License and they ask for the highest level of medical certification.

I am not going to tell you what they have been demanding of us since last December because it seems that we own a large airline because of the amount of paperwork they require of us, all based on civil aviation of manned aircraft or practically the same.
 
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The registration and licensing I can cop- it’s no surprise really... Perhaps they could include a mandatory bond (nothing prohibitive, say $5k) that goes into an interest bearing deposit with the government and is refundable if and when you surrender your licence. Interest on the bond would be returned to the licence holder annually and the bond would provide for public liability insurance cover. If flying legally a claim against the insurance would have no impact, clear demonstrated recklessness by the operator would result in the bond being forfeited.

I don’t like the idea of the forced landing feature. I don’t trust DJI to get the database right and the idea of a forced landing when unknowingly flying near a facility determined as sensitive might present more of a hazard than a soulution.
Agree with you WRT to the registration and licensing, although how that will trickle down to the $29 drones I saw yesterday in the Reject Shop is beyond me. As for the suggestion of a bond of sorts is surely tongue in cheek. They can target push bike riders long before they come after people like me. I've recently got back into racing drones and for the price point, will never have a RTH feature other than my flying skills which are much more 'advanced' than required to fly my phantom. I would suggest that the average punter here on the forum has far greater flying skills than the kid that is about to go to KMart and buy a piece of crap and slam into it into nana's car and just add to the social pariah status that is befalling the rest of us.
 
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Some great points - that original article was written by a journalist in local Australian press (reference omitted by OP) whom imho used some creative licence with facts vs opinions, but the topic is certainly under review.

Sorry about that
Reference is The Courier Mail
It was a subscriber only article hence the the cut and paste and the omission of the test questions.
It consists of 9 questions which if you can't answer you really shouldn't be flying.
Registration is free . I've been registered for 3 or 4 yrs.
At least if you are registered CASA keep you up to date on rule changes etc.
I also applied to fly commercially in the sub 2 kg category just in case.
I've just renewed the commercial part for another 3 yrs - again it's free.
You can register here
Applying for an aviation reference number (ARN)
 
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As somebody who has recently begun flying drones at work in Australia and is currently wanting to purchase their own personal drone, this is a hugely off-putting...

I would obviously do my best to abide by all aviation laws, but if I am risking a $10,000 fine just by accidentally flying over somebody or getting too close to a beach or something so trivial like that then no thanks, it ain't worth it, I'm going to hold off investing in a drone until I see what the result of these propositions are.
 
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As somebody who has recently begun flying drones at work in Australia and is currently wanting to purchase their own personal drone, this is a hugely off-putting...

I would obviously do my best to abide by all aviation laws, but if I am risking a $10,000 fine just by accidentally flying over somebody or getting too close to a beach or something so trivial like that then no thanks, it ain't worth it, I'm going to hold off investing in a drone until I see what the result of these propositions are.

I wouldn't let it put you off.
Just play by the rules and all is good.
 
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I wouldn't let it put you off.
Just play by the rules and all is good.
And that’s it really- the rules to the extent they apply to actual flying haven’t changed it seems. What will be different is the ability to issue fines being extended. I hope it doesn’t include council rangers and parking inspectors. Many I have encountered (in all manner of things, not just drone flight) are over zealous with less than what might be expected in understanding the regulations. I have had two encounters specifically with respect to flying where the end result was an admission they aren’t actually clear on the rules and I should contact council myself to clarify. I suggested that might be something they should do LOL...
 
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And that’s it really- the rules to the extent they apply to actual flying haven’t changed it seems. What will be different is the ability to issue fines being extended. I hope it doesn’t include council rangers and parking inspectors. Many I have encountered (in all manner of things, not just drone flight) are over zealous with less than what might be expected in understanding the regulations. I have had two encounters specifically with respect to flying where the end result was an admission they aren’t actually clear on the rules and I should contact council myself to clarify. I suggested that might be something they should do LOL...

I'm lucky that I live in a very small community and we're basically left alone (so far)
 
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I'm lucky that I live in a very small community and we're basically left alone (so far)
Same here. The local park ranger doesn't care as long as I don't bother the birds during nesting season in the NP directly behind me. Interestingly though, there is one other chap in town who spruiks up his credentials in all things drones with being a contributor to a drone magazine and flying his parrot bebop like a boss. He recently proposed to run a drone flying exhibition for the kids at our up and coming fair and I gently passed on the notion that he would be unable to obtain a permit for doing so in such a populated and condensed area. I understand after a bit of chest puffing, he decided wisely against it.
 
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I'm surrounded by Sandy Point NP and have never even seen a ranger.
The cops come down on the beach occasionally but they're only interested in cars speeding or doing donuts.
 
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I heard this news, but thought this is not implemented yet.
Am I also supposed to register my drone? Its a bayangtoys X16 GPS drone.
 
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Drone registration is not in place (yet?) in Australia, it’s being contemplated (for lack of a better word). Pilot registration (ARN) is implemented already.
Is it mandatory to register? If I don't then will I be fined?

How do I register myself?
 

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