Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has introduced new rules for recreational users of remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS).
Under the new rules, recreational users are prohibited from flying these aircraft, commonly known as drones, within 5.5km of any controlled aerodrome, which covers all capital city airports and some at regional centres.
Drones, which have surged in popularity in recent times, are also prohibited to be flown within 5.5km at non-controlled aerodromes or helicopter landing sites when it is clear aircraft are operating there.
Further, drones must be kept below 400ft and not get any closer than 30m from people not involved the operation of the drone. Also, recreational users can only fly one drone at a time, CASA said on Friday.
“The new rules will better protect people and aircraft from drones. They focus on the operation of recreational drones,” CASA said in a statement.
“The drone safety rules have been tightened in response to community concerns about the safety of drones and the rapid growth in drone numbers.”
CASA said those holding a remote pilot licence (RePL) and operating drones according to a remotely piloted aircraft operator certificate (ReOC) or those with an authorisation from CASA, would be exempt from the new measures.
The new rules also prohibit all drones – both recreational and non-recreational – from being used where fire, police or other emergency operations are underway, unless there was approval from the person in charge of the emergency operation.
The regulator also reaffirmed existing rules that do not allow drones from flying over and above crowds and groups of people, as well as regulations that only allow flights during the day and within visual line of sight.
CASA chief executive and director of aviation safety Shane Carmody said the new rules still offered plenty of opportunities for those who fly drones for fun.
“We certainly don’t want to ban recreational drones but we do have to make sure public safety is properly protected,” Carmody said.
“CASA identified some areas in the drone rules that needed strengthening and clarifying to better manage the risks associated with flying drones.
“The changes make the safety requirements clearer for people flying drones and will make the rules easier to enforce.”
More information can be found on the CASA’s new drone website.
Its discussion paper, published in August, noted there were about 50,000 drones used in this country currently, mostly for sport and recreational purposes. Submissions for public comment closed on September 29.