The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has indefinitely delayed amendments to drone regulation, which includes mandatory drone registration for recreational and commercial operators, with recreational registration ‘some years off’.
The amendments were initially proposed for July 2019, but CASA pushed it back to the end of 2019. Now we’re well into 2019, and there’s still no registration on the horizon, but it’s still in CASA’s pipeline. A report by law firm, King & Wood Mallesons, stated the amendments would come in effect after April 2020, but Inside Imaging has been informed by CASA the delay is indefinite.
‘It will be delayed beyond the anticipated start date but we don’t have a new start yet,’ Peter Gibson, CASA corporate communications manager, told Inside Imaging. ‘The first phase will be for commercial drone operators, not recreational. Recreational is some years off.’
In July 2019, it was reported recreational operators using a 250+ gram drone would come first, followed by sub-2KG commercial operators. This is no longer the case.
‘The delay to recreational operators is due to the potentially high number of drones – we need to get our systems working properly with the smaller number of commercial operators first,’ Peter said. ‘The delay to the planned start date for commercial is just a process issue.’
Rather than re-writing our last report on the registration, here’s a copy-and-paste:
Registration will cost around $20 per year for recreational users and between $100 and $160 for commercial operators. Along with completing an online training and safety course, operators will supply serial numbers to complete registration.
The fees are partly to re-balance CASA’s funding, as the drone sector is currently sucking up financial resources sourced from other sectors such as the aviation fuel levy and government tax payer revenue.
CASA will not only tighten the rules through registration, but also increase efforts to enforce them. The aviation authority will create a national database of drones, and has technology that can detect a signal between the drone and controller. The tech was used during Sydney’s Vivid festival, and may appear at other major events.
‘In some instances this technology can show the location of both the drone and the controller, and in some cases the serial number of the drone as well,’ said CASA communications manager, Peter Gibson, to 7News.
Drone operators caught flying illegally will cop a fine of around $1000, but none have been issued yet.
Catching rogue operators in the act has been highlighted as a weakness in CASA’s regulatory power, as there are no authorities actively monitoring operators. The authority mainly relies on public complaints and reports.
The new rules are a slightly heavier take on the existing ‘light touch’ regulation, which was amended in 2016. Commercial operators using a sub-2KG drone currently do not need a licence, but must provide CASA flight plans. All commercial operators were previously required to obtain a Remote Operators Certificate (ReOC), which is a long and expensive process but worthwhile for serious commercial operators. The ReOC is still required for operators with gear weighing over 2KG.