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Compulsory drone registration imminent

Commercial operators must register all existing drones with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) by January 28 or risk fines of up to $11,000.

It’s currently free to register a drone before June 30, 2021, and registrations are valid for 12 months. All drones, including systems in the sub-2KG range, must be registered if they’re used for commercial purposes, including for capturing photos and video. After June 30 registering a drone will incur a yet-to-be-set fee, and once the 12 month registration period lapses, operators will be required to pay a fee.

There are a few reasons why CASA is requiring commercial operators to register drones. A primary reason is the government body regulates the entire aviation sector, and the fees are partly to re-balance CASA’s funding due to the booming drone industry sucking up significant financial resources. Another reason is to better manage the drone sector, which has proved difficult to regulate and enforce.

Drone registration was initially proposed to roll out in July 2019, but CASA delayed it due to a ‘process issue’. Back then CASA estimated commercial registration would cost between $100 and $160, although Inside Imaging is informed the figure is now undecided.

Registering a drone system is simple, requiring proof of identity, a myCASA account, an aviation reference number, and information about the drone including model and serial number. Commercial operators are also required to have a Remote Piloted Aircraft accreditation, which is also free and requires operators to take a short quiz to prove they know the rules.

CASA corporate communications manager, Peter Gibson, informs Inside Imaging that registrations have ‘increased steadily month-on-month’.

‘As of 20 January 2021, more than 1300 organisations and more than 6300 individual commercial operators have registered almost 13,000 commercial RPA,’ he said. ‘We recognise some commercial operators, many with larger fleets, are waiting until the requirement date to take advantage of the maximum free registration period (valid for 12 months).’

Gibson adds that failure to register a drone could also void insurance coverage if the RPA causes loss, damage or injury to others. ‘Operators should check with their insurance provider’.

For now recreational drone operators do not need to register their equipment; however this will be rolled out sometime in the future.

Click here to visit the CASA registration page.

One Comment

  1. DW DW January 27, 2021

    Whilst I am generally in favour of regulation of the drone industry, this does have the smell of a blatant cash grab about it. The aviation industry is at a lower ebb than any time since Orville & Wilbur got bored of bicycling and the CASA coffers are getting low so who can they charge – oh yes, lets go after all those micro-businesses who probably make a fortune doing real-estate photos…
    Yes, they’re not charging now, but this will give them a great database from which to issue registration fees next year, and a good idea of what future revenues are likely to be to keep the bean counters in Canberra happy. If only the drone industry had a loud Irish mouthpiece who could spruik how poor the operators actually are and how we really need subsidies not extra charges and regulations…

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