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CASA warns more drones are flying near Sydney Airport

written by Adam Thorn | April 28, 2022

Autumn Drone (WikkiCommons)

CASA has warned there has been an increase in drone use near Sydney Airport.

Current rules state that it is illegal to fly devices weighing more than 250 grams within 5.5 kilometres of most airports, unless pilots obtain an exemption.

It comes after the ATSB separately reported an increase in “near encounters” between traditional aircraft and drones, and following a high-profile incident where a 3.5-kilogram device crashed through a high-rise window in Sydney.

CASA’s manager of RPAS operations, Scott Duffy, said, “Our reports show higher instances of drones being flown on the weekends within 5.5 km of Sydney Airport compared to weekdays and the most popular time to fly is 4pm and 5pm.

“As drones continue to soar in popularity, it is important users inform themselves on where they can and can’t operate their drone, if they need to be licensed and the dangers of flying drones near airports.”

All drones, regardless of how much they weigh are prohibited from flying over or in the departure or approach path of a “controlled airport”.

CASA is encouraging users to download its drone safety apps, which feature maps showing where you can and can’t fly, through its Know Your Drone website.

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The news also comes after Australian Aviation reported in September how the ATSB has introduced its biggest overhaul in drone reporting rules in nearly two decades.

From 30 September 2021, the Transport Safety Investigation Regulations Act 2003 was replaced with the new Transport Safety Investigation Regulations Act 2021.

The new regulations specify that operators of certain remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) will now be required to make safety and occurrence reports to the ATSB in a timely fashion.

Previously, there was no formal requirement for operators to report safety incidents to the ATSB, however major incidents were often still flagged to the safety investigator.

Operators or other “responsible persons” deemed to have deliberately failed to adhere to mandatory reporting requirements could be referred to the Australian Federal Police for investigation, and face public prosecution – though this would be an incredibly rare repercussion.

According to the bureau, the new reporting requirements will allow it to better measure and assess safety issues and monitor trends in the operation of RPAs in the growing drone sector.

Under the new regulations, drones will be categorised under either Type 1 RPAs or Type 2 RPAs.

Type 1 RPAs include drones that have been certified against relevant airworthiness standards (type certification), medium drones that weigh over 25 kilograms, and large drones that weigh over 150 kilograms.

All other drones over 250 grams are considered Type 2 RPAs and will have fewer reporting requirements.

This distinction is made on the basis that ATSB investigations are unlikely for these operations unless there is serious risk of harm to people or significant third-party property, the bureau said.

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