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Restrictions around drones in Australia


Drones represent an exciting commercial opportunity for movie makers... if you do things right. Clearly, CASA is the go to for relevant legislation surrounding current drone laws in Australia. Having recently researched the situation, I thought I would simplify what the laws generally mean for new comers.

If your drone falls into the ’sub 2KG’ category, you are exempt from having to have an RePL (Remote Pilot License). This is great news if you have purchased one of the DJI Mavic or smaller drones. you can use these for paid services if you wish. Having said that, the proviso is that you operate under the exact same rules as if you are using the drone just for fun. This means there are some serious limitations such as:

No night flying;

The drone must always be in line of sight;

No closer than 30m to people, property, roads etc;

No flying within 5.5 Kms of an airport or active helipad;

maximum height of 120 metres.

Realistically, these restrictions are fairly significant and great care must be taken. Remember, your DJI Go4 app logs your flying automatically. Also, your videos are also a form of evidence of what your drone has been doing, so you want to make sure that you follow the rules.

If you are flying for profit, another consideration is public liability insurance. Without it, you risk a personal attack on your private assets, if your drone is responsible for damage or an injury.


So, if you want to fly at night, or closer than 30 metres, for example an RePL will fix it, right? Well, partially right. it seems that an operator with an RePL must fly under someone with a REOC (Remote Operator’s Certificate). Of course, both of these require further training and expense. The individual/organisation with the REOC makes sure that all CASA requirements are fulfilled and that the RePL individual can then proceed with the drone shoot. It is only under these circumstances that you will see drones legally flying contrary to drone laws.


Not so simple is it? There’s more. If you go for a REOC, you will also need to complete an AROC (radio licence) for communicating with aircraft and an AELP (Australian English Language Proficiency). Wow!


For now, this little black duck is happy to continue flying under the sub 2KG exclusions. Drones? Love them, they are absolutely amazing. I might just see how I go for a while before committing to more.

*This blog is opinion only. Refer to CASA for official legislation.

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