Australia has become the latest nation to enact a version of a micro drone regulation, in order to support the burgeoning drone industry.
Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority announced that they will ease commercial drone regulations, effective in September of this year. The new regulations are based around a version of the so-called micro drone classification, eliminating certain requirements for small drones which are deemed low risk.
Drones weighing less than 2 kg (4.4 pounds) maximum take-off weight will no longer require an operator’s certificate or a remote pilot license. The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) says that the changes will encourage the industry and save drone operators time and money.
“Regulatory requirements for an important sector of the booming remotely piloted aircraft industry are being eased,” says the announcement. “…The move will cut regulatory costs for operators by thousands of dollars, save time and reduce paperwork.”
Rather than apply for an operator’s certificate or remote pilot license, micro drone operators will just notify the CASA that they intend to operate their drone commercially, using an online notification system that CASA will provide.
Operators will still need to comply with Australia’s standard safety rules, including flying below 120 meters (around 400 ft,) keeping more than 30 meters (about 100 ft) away from people, flying more than 5.5 km (about 3.5 miles) away from airports, and avoiding emergency scenes.
In addition to the relief for micro drone operators, the new regulations also allow landowners to carry out a wide range of applications on their own land, without permissions or approvals from CASA. This would allow any drone up to about 55 pounds to be used on the operator’s own property as long as no money changes hands – a significant advantage for farmers who wish to use drones to take advantage of precision agriculture applications.
CASA’s Director of Aviation Safety, Mark Skidmore, said in a statement that the changes are designed to cut red tape.
“While safety must always come first, CASA’s aim is to lighten the regulatory requirements where we can,” Mr Skidmore said. “The amended regulations recognise the different safety risks posed by different types of remotely piloted aircraft.
The changes represent closely the outcome that many industry stakeholders had hoped for here in the US; but the FAA has said that despite Congressional proposals calling for a micro drone classification they will not consider regulations based solely on size and weight.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
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