Commercial unmanned flight
remotely piloted aircraft under 2kg
- Effective 29 September 2016, the new category of excluded RPA came into effect, with reduced regulatory requirements to fly very small RPAs commercially. Operations under 2kg (excluded) will not need an RPA operator’s certificate (ReOC), or a remote pilot licence (RePL).
Those operating in the excluded RPA category will have to notify CASA at least five business days before their first commercial flight and agree to operate by the standard operating conditions and the guidance in advisory circular (AC) 101-10.
What you need to do
1. Notify CASA five business days before flying
- You can notify CASA via the online notification form.
- To notify CASA, you will need an aviation reference number (ARN).
- If you do not already have an ARN, you will need to apply for an ARN.
- Please note the ARN application can take up to five working days.
- When completing the online notification form, use the + button to select up to 50 locations and 5 RPA categories on the one notification form.
- Your notification is only valid for 24 months, so you will need to re-notify CASA every two years. If your operating details change during the two year period (e.g. different location, RPA category), you will need to submit a new notification form to CASA.
2. Operate within the standard operation conditions
- You must only fly during the day and keep your RPA within visual line-of sight.
- This means being able to see the aircraft with your own eyes (rather than through first-person-view (FPV)) at all times.
- You must not fly your RPA higher than 120 metres (400ft) AGL.
- You must keep your RPA at least 30 metres away from other people.
- You must keep your RPA at least 5.5km away from controlled aerodromes.
- You must not fly your RPA over any area where, in the event of a loss of control or failure, you create an unreasonable hazard to the safety of people and property on the ground.
- You must not fly your RPA over or near an area affecting public safety or where emergency operations are underway (without prior approval).
- This could include situations such as a car crash, police operations, a fire and associated firefighting efforts, and search and rescue.
- You can only fly one RPA at a time.
*Please note: CASA will not issue any further RPAS operational approvals or exemptions to excluded RPA operators. You will need a ReOC and a RePL if you want to operate outside the above conditions.
The above operating conditions are a broad reflection of Civil Aviation Safety Regulations Part 101 and do not encompass all the regulations you must follow e.g. You must not operate your RPA in a way that creates a hazard to another aircraft, another person or property. It is your responsibility to abide by all of the regulations detailed in Part 101. Failure to do so could result in enforcement action taken against you, including large fines and possible jail time.
The advantages of an RPA operator’s certificate (ReOC)
While we have made it easier for commercial operators to fly a very small RPA from 29 September 2016, there are many advantages to gaining your ReOC:
- Not having a ReOC means for commercial operations you’re limited to flying a very small RPA. Generally, if you want to fly anything heavier, above two kilograms, you’ll need a ReOC.
- Not having a ReOC means you are restricted to operating under the standing operating instructions, greatly limiting where and how you can fly.
- Not having a ReOC means you will be unlikely to get insurance, leaving you solely liable for any incident or accident arising from flying your RPA. Clients/employers are also less likely to hire you if you’re uninsured.
ReOC holders will also be given significant additional privileges under the Part 101 amendment, including:
- permission to operate closer than 30 metres, but no less than 15 metres, from a person
- night time flying (with night approval)
- the ability to get exemptions to the regulations e.g. beyond-visual-line-of-sight where CASA accepts that the safety case for the operation maintains the current level of aviation safety
- the ability to apply for a range of different additional approvals. However, be aware there are also state licensing requirements for various flight activities (eg, applying agricultural chemicals)