New aviation laws on drones
Drones are everywhere nowadays, and that can be a problem with the law.
Cameras attached to drones with live feeds to laptops are being used for more and more purposes – photographing property, keeping track of stock on farms, rescue and police operations and checking building structures.
A fisherman used a drone to drop his line into a school of fish hundreds of metres out from the beach.
Unfortunately drones are also being used in ways that break the law such as spying on people inside homes, breaching security of factories or farms, and posing dangers to low flying aircraft and causing injury if they crash.
One drone operator lost control and crashed their drone into a train on the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Firefighters and police complain drone operators are interfering with their operations. Who knows how they will be used in the future – in the US a teenager attached a gun to a drone and fired it at a target.
Aviation law expert John Glynn of Stacks Law Firm says commercial users of drones require a licence, while recreational users don’t. However on 29 September CASA will relax Part 101 of the Civil Aviatiuon Safety Regulations and allow the operation of drones for commercial purposes.
“The change removes the need, in certain circumstances, for commercial drone pilots to hold an operator’s certificate and remote pilot licence, as well as having to apply for CASA approval each time they use a drone.
“This only applies to drones weighing less than two kilograms. Drone pilots will need to register with CASA and follow mandatory flight restrictions that already apply to amateur drone users such as not flying higher than 120 metres.”
Mr Glynn, a keen pilot, warns drone operators who breach these regulations can be fined up to $9,000.
“If you damage property, injure someone or breach security restrictions, the operator could be liable to criminal charges and be sued for damages.
“If you find yourself in trouble with these laws, or have a complaint about a drone, it would be wise to get expert legal advice.”
“Drones must be kept at least 30 metres from other people, fly no further than 30 metres away from the controller, stay within visual sight, only fly in daylight, not fly within 5.5 kilometres of airports, not fly over a populous area such as beaches, populated parks, sports ovals when a game is in progress or where there are large crowds such as music festivals or new year celebrations.
“They must not be used anywhere near emergency situations or affect public safety, such as bushfires or car crashes.”