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CASA activates commercial drone fees

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) now requires commercial drone operators to pay a $40 annual registration levy for aircraft weighing more than 500 grams.

If you ain’t flying for fun, then you gotta pay a sum.

Commercial operators have been required to register drones with CASA for some time, with registrations free up until June 30.

On January 20, CASA told Inside Imaging that more than 6300 commercial operators had taken advantage of the fee free registration period, with almost 13,000 drones now in the system. At the time the aviation authority was yet to settle on a fee system for commercial operators.

Now that June 30 has flown past, all commercial drones now incur a $40 annual fee. Registration lasts for 12 months, meaning drones registered for free will incur the $40 registration levy when it’s time to re-register.

While many operators would prefer to not have to pay registration, especially those with large fleets, CASA initially estimated the commercial registration levy to be between $100 – $160.

The primary reason why CASA introduced the fees is to re-balance funding. The government body oversees regulation across the entire aviation sector, and the booming drone industry has sucked up significant financial resources. Registration also helps to better manage the drone sector, which has proved difficult to regulate and enforce.

CASA lists commercial activities as:
– Selling photos or videos taken from a drone;
– Inspecting industrial equipment, construction sites or infrastructure;
– Monitoring, surveillance or security services;
– Research and development.

Modifications to registrations can be done, as well as de-registered if the drone is lost, damaged, or sold.

CASA states that after selling a drone, the registration must be cancelled. If not, it’s possible to be held responsible for any offences committed by the new owner. CASA also asks operators to not remove the serial number.

Fines of up to $11,100 can be issued for flying an unregistered commercial drone.

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