Australia’s governing body for UAV, CASA, has indicated that they may be relaxing their restrictions on commercial applications by adopting a new two kilogram weight limit. The new rules would allow UAV under the weight of two kilograms to be operated commercially without the need for any certificates.
Currently an operating certificate and remote pilot certificate are required to be issued by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) to operate UAV for any commercial purposes, regardless of the weight of the aircraft. However, in a statement to The Australian, CASA spokesperson Peter Gibson said that CASA “was looking at what are the risks of an RPA under two kilograms from a safety perspective.”
“The risk was sufficiently low enough to not need the extra layer of regulation,” Mr Gibson said. “It will offer opportunities for people using small machines but you’re not going to have carte blanche to charge around doing whatever you like.”
Despite not requiring any certificates, operators of all scales will still be subject to certain regulations, such as not being able to operate UAV within five kilometers of an airport and not being allowed to fly within 30m of people not involved with operating the UAV.
In May 2015, CASA director Mark Skidmore AM indicated that for certain applications the current framework—established in 2002—is quickly becoming out-dated. Although Skidmore himself did not specify any weight limit, he did indicate that CASA is in the process of amending the regulations to take account of considerations such as:
- Categorising RPAs (Remotely Piloted Aircraft) by weight
- Looking at options to provide more flexible requirements for small commercial RPA operators
- Assessing restrictions on flight in the vicinity of aerodromes
- Aligning terminology with the International Civil Aviation Organisation and making appropriate changes to the documented procedures
CASA also expects an increase in applications for beyond visual line of sight operations and will be consulting with industry to develop a strategic plan to guide regulatory progress for more complex operations.
According to Skidmore, the amendments are expected to become active in the second half of 2015.