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Australia’s Drone Laws for the Uninitiated

Updated: Aug 19, 2022

Drones are increasingly becoming more popular in Australia thanks to their diverse uses. But whether you're using it as a farming tool, for work, or simply for entertainment, there are drone rules in Australia that you need to follow. Since it's still a relatively new trend, it's understandable that not many are aware of drone laws, but we're here to remedy that today. Let's look at all the details you need to know and the questions you might ask.

Basic Drone Rules in Australia

Remember that training or certification isn't required to fly a drone for recreational purposes. However, there are laws put in place by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority of Australia (the ones responsible for Australia's drone regulation) to protect the airspace of the user and the people around them.

Here are the rules:

  1. You shouldn’t fly your drone higher than 120 metres above the ground.

  2. Owners must keep their drones at least 30 metres away from other people.

  3. The drone must be visible to the operator at all times.

  4. Drones weighing over 250 grams should be kept 5.5 kilometres at a minimum away from a controlled airport.

  5. Only fly one drone at a time.

  6. Operators must not use their drones to create hazards to people, property, and aircraft.

  7. If flying a drone near a helicopter landing site, keep your drone within 5.5 kilometres from you. If a crewed aircraft is nearby, maneuver your drone away and land it as quickly and safely as possible.

man operating an xag farm drone

Do I Need a Drone License in Australia?

Flying for commercial purposes means you plan to profit from your flight through any method. If you're flying drones for recreational purposes, you don't need a license. But if your drone is intended for commercial use, you will need special drone licenses in Australia. Although commercial drone flying generally requires a permit, there are two situations where you can fly without it.

The first is if your drone weighs between 100g and 2 kg, and the second is if your drone weighs under 25 kg and is flying over your land. If you don't fit within the excluded category, applying for a remote pilot license (RePL) is a must. However, before flying, you must still inform CASA through their online notification form.

Even if you hold a remote pilot license, you are only allowed to fly for commercial use if employed by an individual who holds a Remotely Piloted Aircraft Operator's Certificate (ReOC). If you are a sole proprietor, you can have a RePL and ReOC, meaning you can fly commercially under your employ.

More on Drone No-Fly Zones

There are specific drone laws in Australia that dictate no-fly zones. Here are some of the restrictions:

No Flying Drones over Populated Areas

These include parks, beaches, events, or anywhere where there are many people. These areas are restricted since flying drones can pose unreasonable risks to a person's life, safety, and property. Accidents can result in harm to people and even loss of life. It can also damage houses, cars, and infrastructure.

No Flying near Emergency Services Operations

All drone owners must stay clear of areas where emergency operations are being conducted. These include areas where there are firefighting efforts, search and rescue, police operations, and the like. But this rule doesn't apply if the person in charge of the situation approves of drone use.

xag drone flying at dusk

No Flying of Drones at Night or into Clouds

You cannot fly drones during the time between civil dusk and dawn. You also can't fly drones into clouds since you may hit an aircraft and cause damage or accidents. Doing so will also cause you to lose sight of your drone, and owners must always keep theirs in their line of sight.

So, Where Can I Fly My Drone in Australia?

Drone fly zones are areas where flying isn't restricted. As mentioned, you can fly your drone over your property if you notify CASA beforehand. You can also operate your drone outside no-fly zones if you have the required licenses. If you plan on flying in locations like local parks and other public areas, you should notify the council to ensure you don't get in trouble with law enforcement.

Drone Etiquette

While flying your drone is fun, you should also consider the people around you, especially your neighbours. Here are common mistakes you should avoid:

Taking Unauthorised Videos or Photos

No current drone rules can stop you from taking videos or photos with your drone. However, you may get a privacy complaint filed against you if you do it without permission.

Flying over Your Neighbour’s Property

While drone laws do not prohibit this, doing this can quickly lead to irate neighbours. They may feel that their privacy is being invaded. Your drone may even hit them if handled incorrectly.

Flying near Animals or Pets

Doing this shouldn't be a problem with your pets. But other people's pets may not be used to seeing or hearing a drone. Apart from scaring the animals, you also risk your drone getting damaged.

Ignoring Pleas to Stop

It shouldn't be a problem if you're flying your drone inside your property. But if you plan to take it out into your neighbourhood, it would be best to ask the people around you if they are alright with it. If they ask you not to fly your drone around them and you ignore their pleas, you could get into arguments with them. You may even get a complaint filed against you.

xag xmission drone surveying the fields

Where to Buy a Drone for Commercial Agricultural Use

Looking to buy a drone for agricultural use? Choose XAG Australia. We are premier providers of drones that are commercially applied globally, advancing agriculture the smart way.

While owning drones is preferable, we understand that some may be hesitant to invest fully. That is why we also offer services for specialised farming needs. Whether you need aerial surveying, seeding, or spraying, count on us to provide efficient and cost-effective services that help you maximise your yield. Contact us today to learn more about our drone services.

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