What are the new drone laws?

On September 29 CASA & the Australian Government deregulated the current RPA (Remotely Piloted Aircraft) law which will allow a person to operate a very small RPA (that is less than 2kg) for commercial gain. However the operation must be conducted under strict conditions.

Standard operating conditions means that the RPA must be operated within these 4 rules:

  • Within visual line of sight (see the RPA with your eyes)
  • Below 400 ft AGL (120m above ground level)
  • During the day only
  • Keep 30m away from people. (includes cast, crew, actors etc)

It may NOT be operated:

  • over a populous area ie. beaches, busy roads, events, concerts
  • within 5.5kms of a controlled aerodromes. ie airports, helipads etc
  • in a prohibited area ie. National parks, CBD, military zones, schools etc.
  • in a restricted area that is classified as RA3
  • over an area where a fire, police or other public safety or emergency operation is being conducted.

What does this mean for me?

If you want to get into drone photography maybe starting out with something like real estate you can, however NOT all your properties will be able to conform within these guidelines. For example here are a handful of scenarios that you would most definitely NOT be able to shoot at:

  • CBD & innercity locations
  • Highrise apartments
  • Fly from the beach over the road into the property
  • Beach front properties opposite a populated area or busy road
  • Properties within 5kms of an airport/ helipad
  • Fly with and deliver items/ food

What are the risks?

Currently the biggest (most important) factor for operating at this category level is the insurance factor. Right now NO insurance company will insure a non-certified operator for public liability or indemnity insurance.

drone crash

Drone hits Triathlete in Geraldton- ABC news


Largest underwriter of drone insurance, QBE released this article stating that flying under the new CASA rulings will be a huge risk to businesses property and personal damage without being protected.


Should something go wrong, Hooper said that strict liability would be imposed, meaning operators can be personally held responsible for any injury or damage caused, irrespective of whether there is negligence or intent.

New drone operators won’t have had extensive training as a licensed operator, thus presenting a genuine risk to property & the public, which could leave operators exposed. The cost associated with an injury or property damage could potentially be in millions – Which means if you have an incident with your drone you could be sued for everything you have with no protection.

Where can I get training?

There are various CASA certified training companies that will get you qualified to be a ReOC or RePL, see the CASA website for more information.

UAVisuals will start a flying, safety and best practices training program available to anyone that is looking at getting into the under 2kg. The training will cover aspects from a photography and cinematography point of view as well as technical aspects specifically for industries such as real estate, commercial and videography.

If you are interested in this particular training register your interest below & we will have someone be in touch shortly.


How do I get started?

If you understand the above regulations and risks and want to get into the industry at the under 2kg level there is a series of steps to take before you can start monetising.

In summary, here is what you need to do to get started.

  1. You must inform CASA by using the online notification form at least five business days before your first commercial flight. Make sure that you have aviation reference number (ARN) before notifying CASA.
  2. The process of notifying CASA needs to be repeated after every two years.
  3. You must strictly adhere to all the standard operating conditions. In short, your RPA must not cause harm to any person or property.
  4. You cannot fly your RPA near or above the areas where emergency operations or investigations are under process. ie Fire, police operations etc.


For more information the Civil Aviation Safety Authority has created a video which explains the above process.


Can I operate outside these rules?

In short.. No.

However CASA gives considerable exemptions to anyone who possess an Operator’s Certificate (ReOC). Certified operators (with clearance from CASA) can attain special permissions to fly outside the limitations listed above.

Moreover, they are not subject to several obligations that non-certified operators need to observe. This allows ReOC drone controllers to make the best use of RPA that is not possible for everyone. Therefore, it is always a better decision to hire a certified drone operator rather than observing the strict conditions of CASA.

UAVisuals and their contract RPA operators currently hold full ReOC licences and public liability insurance, furthermore have an unprecedented safety and customer satisfaction track record.

If you require an operation outside these boundaries or have any questions, email us with your brief and one of our operators will be in touch.


Safe flying.