In order to become a drone pilot in Australia, it is imperative to understand the legal requirements and obtain the necessary licenses and training.
This article will provide an overview of the steps involved in becoming a certified drone pilot, including navigating the different airspace regulations and restrictions.
By following this guide, aspiring drone pilots can gain the knowledge and skills required to operate drones safely and legally within the Australian airspace.
Australia’s Drone Pilot Legal Requirements
The legal requirements for becoming a drone pilot in Australia include obtaining a remote pilot’s license (RePL) if operating a drone weighing more than 2kg.
These qualifications are necessary to ensure the safe and responsible operation of drones in Australian airspace.
In addition to the RePL, drone pilots are also required to adhere to specific flight restrictions and safety regulations imposed by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).
These regulations include flying during the day, maintaining visual line-of-sight with the drone, and keeping the drone below 120 meters above the ground. Drone pilots must also ensure a minimum distance of 30 meters from other people and avoid flying over or near areas affecting public safety or emergency operations.
It is also important to note that commercial drone pilots have additional requirements, such as holding a RePL and flying with a certified operator.
Despite these legal requirements, becoming a drone pilot in Australia can offer exciting career opportunities. With the increasing demand for drone services in various industries, such as aerial photography, surveying, and inspections, qualified drone pilots can find employment in these sectors.
To meet the growing demand, there are various training programs available to help individuals obtain the necessary qualifications and skills to pursue a successful career as a drone pilot.
Commercial Drone License in Australia
To legally operate drones for commercial purposes in Australia, you must obtain a Remote Pilot License (RePL) or an RPA operator accreditation, depending on the weight of the drone and the nature of the operation.
Here are some key points to consider regarding commercial drone licenses in Australia:
- Drone pilot career opportunities in Australia: With the growing demand for drone technology in various industries such as photography, agriculture, construction, and more, there are ample career opportunities for drone pilots in Australia.
- Insurance requirements for commercial drone operators: Commercial drone operators are required to have appropriate insurance coverage to protect themselves and their clients from any potential liabilities or damages that may occur during drone operations.
- Safety regulations for flying drones in populated areas: It is important for commercial drone operators to adhere to safety regulations when flying drones in populated areas. This includes maintaining a safe distance from people and property, obtaining necessary permits or approvals, and following specific flight restrictions in certain areas.
- Emerging technologies in the drone industry: The drone industry is continuously evolving, with advancements in technologies such as artificial intelligence, automation, and improved sensors. Staying updated with these emerging technologies can provide commercial drone operators with a competitive edge.
- Drone pilot training and certification process in Australia: To become a certified drone pilot in Australia, individuals need to undergo training with a CASA-approved training organization. The training typically takes around five days and covers various aspects such as drone operation, aviation regulations, safety procedures, and more.
Training for Aspiring Drone Pilots
Numerous training programs and courses are available for aspiring drone pilots in Australia, offering comprehensive instruction and guidance on operating drones safely and effectively.
These training programs are designed to provide industry-focused courses that equip individuals with the necessary skills to meet the demands of real-world employers. They cover the latest drone technologies and ensure that aspiring drone pilots are well-versed in safety and regulations.
One example is UAV Training Australia, which offers courses designed by aviation experts with real industry experience. Their programs provide exposure to the industry’s latest drone platforms, technologies, and sensors, giving students the opportunity to build the skills that employers are seeking.
Another provider, Droneit, offers easily accessible and professionally supported drone license training. They prioritize thoroughness and provide the necessary means for individuals to gain certification for recreational and commercial drone flying.
Public Safety Training & Response Group is another training provider that offers comprehensive courses covering topics such as regulations, safety requirements, flight planning, drone operation, and emergency procedures.
They also offer specialized courses in areas such as aerial photography, surveying, and inspection.
National Drones Institute is a fully accredited RPAS training facility that offers a range of courses, including Drone Awareness, Remote Pilot Licensing, and AVI30419 Certificate III in Aviation (Remote Pilot).
Steps to Obtain RePL from CASA
To obtain a Remote Pilot License (RePL) from CASA in Australia, there are several steps you need to follow.
First, find a certified RePL training provider and complete an RPAS theoretical and practical training course.
Then, you must pass a flight test conducted by a CASA officer and provide a log book and Aviation Reference Number (ARN).
Find a certified RePL training provider
One option for individuals seeking to obtain a RePL from CASA is to locate a certified training provider. These providers are approved by CASA and offer UAV training courses that meet the regulatory requirements for drone operation.
When choosing the right training provider, it is important to consider factors such as their reputation, experience, and the quality of their training programs.
Here are some CASA approved providers to consider:
- UAV Training Australia: Known for their comprehensive training programs and experienced instructors.
- Remote Aviation Australia: Offers a range of training courses tailored to different skill levels and industry applications.
- National Drones Institute: Provides practical training combined with theoretical knowledge to help individuals become competent drone pilots.
The cost of drone pilot training can vary depending on the provider and the type of course chosen. It is advisable to research and compare different training providers to find the one that best suits your needs and budget.
Complete an RPAS theoretical and practical training course
To obtain a RePL from CASA, aspiring drone pilots must successfully complete both the theoretical and practical components of an RPAS training course.
The RPAS training requirements encompass a wide range of topics, including RPA law and systems, meteorology, human factors, operational flight planning, and the importance of aviation English language.
The theoretical part of the course aims to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the principles and regulations governing drone operations.
On the other hand, the practical flying exercises focus on honing the skills necessary for safe and proficient RPA system operations.
This includes learning how to properly set up and operate the drone, as well as mastering aerial photography techniques for capturing high-quality images and videos.
Pass a flight test conducted by a CASA officer
After completing the RPAS training course, aspiring drone pilots must pass a flight test conducted by a CASA officer to obtain their RePL from CASA.
This evaluation is crucial as it ensures that pilots are competent and knowledgeable in operating drones safely and effectively.
The flight test requirements include a comprehensive drone safety assessment, where pilots must demonstrate their understanding of safety protocols and regulations.
Additionally, pilots are required to undergo a pilot proficiency check, which assesses their ability to control the drone accurately and respond to different flight scenarios.
Lastly, there is an aviation competency examination, which tests pilots on their knowledge of airspace regulations and emergency procedures.
Passing this flight test is essential for aspiring drone pilots to obtain their RePL and become certified by CASA.
Provide a log book and Aviation Reference Number (ARN)
When applying for a Remote Pilot License (RePL) from CASA, aspiring drone pilots must submit a log book documenting their flight experience and an Aviation Reference Number (ARN) as part of the application process.
The log book serves as a record of the pilot’s flight hours and is an essential component in assessing their competence and experience. CASA regulations require that the log book be maintained in a specific format, detailing important information such as the date, duration, location, and purpose of each flight.
It is crucial for drone pilots to accurately record their flight experience to demonstrate their proficiency and understanding of aviation rules and regulations.
Alongside the log book, applicants must also apply for an ARN, which serves as a unique identifier for individuals involved in civil aviation. This number is necessary for CASA to track and manage the licenses and certifications of drone pilots.
Apply for the RePL
Once you have completed the necessary training and obtained your RePL log book and ARN, you can proceed with applying for the Remote Pilot License (RePL) from CASA.
The RePL application process involves the following steps:
- Research RePL training providers: Before applying, it is important to research and select a reputable RePL training provider that meets your needs and budget.
- Gather documentation requirements: You will need to provide certain documents, such as your log book, ARN, proof of identity, and medical certificate, as part of your application.
- Submit your application: Once you have gathered all the necessary documents, you can submit your application to CASA for review.
- RePL review process and issuance timeline: CASA will review your application and, if approved, you will be issued your RePL. The timeline for issuance can vary, so it is important to check with CASA for the current processing times.
Drones in Different Australian Airspace
Various airspace categories exist in Australia, where drone operations are conducted, including Class A, C, D, E, and G. Each airspace category has its own set of drone safety guidelines and airspace restrictions that drone pilots must adhere to.
In Class G airspace, which is the most common for drone operations, pilots have more flexibility as it is uncontrolled airspace.
However, they still need to follow the general rules such as flying during the daytime, keeping the drone within line of sight, and maintaining a safe distance from people and property.
For commercial drone operations, additional regulations apply. All drones flown commercially must be registered with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).
Drone pilots flying drones under two kilograms for business purposes require an RPA operator accreditation or a Remote Pilot License (RePL). Pilots operating drones over two kilograms need a RePL and the company they fly for must hold a remotely piloted aircraft operator’s certificate (ReOC).
To operate in Class C airspace, which surrounds major city airports, commercial drone pilots need prior written approval from CASA if they are operating within 3 nautical miles of the aerodrome boundary or above 400 feet above ground level.
Age and Drone Type Restrictions in Australia
Age and drone type restrictions in Australia dictate the eligibility requirements and specifications for individuals who want to become drone pilots. It is important to be aware of these restrictions in order to ensure compliance with the law.
Here are some key points to note:
- Drone age restrictions: The minimum age requirement to register a drone and fly it for business or as part of a job is 16 years old. However, there is no minimum age requirement to obtain a Remote Pilot Licence (RePL).
- Drone weight restrictions: Drones that weigh more than 250g must be kept at least 5.5km away from controlled aerodromes. If a drone weighs less than 2kg, it can be flown in the ‘excluded’ category for commercial use, but if it weighs more than 2kg, a Remote Pilot’s Licence (RePL) is required.
- Drone height restrictions: Drones must not fly higher than 120 meters (400ft) above the ground.
- Drone proximity restrictions: Drones must be kept at least 30 meters away from other people and should not be flown over or above people, including at beaches, parks, events, or sports ovals where there is a game in progress.
- Drone licensing requirements: To fly a drone commercially, a Remote Pilot’s Licence (RePL) is required for drones weighing more than 2kg. For drones weighing less than 2kg, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) must be notified before flying.
In conclusion, becoming a drone pilot in Australia requires obtaining a Remote Pilot License (RePL) from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA). This involves completing the necessary training and passing the required exams.
It is important to understand the legal requirements and restrictions, such as age limits and airspace regulations.
By following the proper steps and meeting the necessary qualifications, aspiring drone pilots can pursue a career or hobby in this growing field.