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CASA allowing unlicensed drone ops, <2kg

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CASA allowing unlicensed drone ops, <2kg

Old 4th Apr 2016, 15:07
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CASA allowing unlicensed drone ops, <2kg

Hi all,

I'm not sure if this is general knowledge in the wider aviation community yet, but CASA is moving to amend part 101 to allow completely unlicensed drone operations, providing that the UAV in question is below 2kg AUW.

As a professional UAV business aware of the dangers, we are extremely concerned at the prospect of relatively large drones being flown without any sort of permit or knowledge of basic aviation law, airspace, etc. I certainly wouldn't want 2kg of metal and carbon fibre coming through any part of my aircraft (I fly the ones you sit in too!).

Of course there is small print restricting use around airports and such, but I would not expect anyone to follow that, the general message people will hear is anything goes if <2kg.

I mention it here in the hope that you agree with the safety concern and can voice it back up the chain from the manned aviation side of the fence. Collisions are increasingly likely, even without this change, but by throwing open the doors to every amateur photographer out there that risk is being severely ratcheted up.

If the amendments go through, keep your eyes peeled below 3000ft come September!

Regards,
Andrew Chapman
Australian UAV, Director of Operations NSW
www.auav.com.au
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Old 4th Apr 2016, 20:41
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As an airline pilot, and someone in the UAV/RPA industry, I don't think there will be a sudden safety risk come September due to the new laws. There's still a bit for CASA to define, but we've tried or explain the rule changes here:

http://www.aerialhotshots.com.au/uav-training/new-laws-sub2kg-rpa/

Just because someone can gain financially with a small drone doesn't mean we're more likely to collide with them. Guys trying to make money without a operator's certificate will have to conform to standard operating conditions, which will limit their height and operations near airports. They will also have to register with CASA. Yes, there will be rouges, but I doubt they're going to be at 3000 feet on the approach path. Even if one is up there, it is a big sky.

The ones you have to worry about are the You Tube heroes trying to fly as high as possible or push the limits. These guys exist anyway, and won't suddenly increase in numbers just because of the new laws.

Birds still pose a far greater risk, and we're not shooting them out of the sky.

The new rules are more likely to affect some smaller UAV operators due to lost business - don't make this a safety argument.
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Old 4th Apr 2016, 20:55
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Private use of drones never required CASA licensing. There is a plethora of drones and RC aircraft out there and has been for years, many owned by children, and I don't recall too many mid air collisions. I've seen a $22 4 channel miniature drone achieve 500 ft AGL and there must be thousands of those things in the hands of Aussie kids?

Despite the perceived risks, it is probably one of CASA's more rational decisions - CASA never had a hope of controlling or regulating private drone and RC aircraft operations.

Reminiscent of days of yore (late 60's, early 70's) when use of an unlicensed wireless transmitter attracted a fine of $10,000. Then one of our regular PPRuNers brought in container loads of 27 Mhz CB radios and the game was all over for Government control and regulation.
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Old 5th Apr 2016, 03:56
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An interesting first post Andrew. Welcome.

I believe that your concern is motivated by commercial considerations and not safety and here is why. Your use of language is a clue.

but CASA is moving to amend part 101 to allow completely unlicensed drone operations,
What you really mean is ...

but CASA is moving to amend part 101 to allow completely unlicensed commercial drone operations,
As you are well aware, private "drone" or as CASA call them RPVs, are already "completely unlicensed" and so nothing changes there.

we are extremely concerned at the prospect of relatively large drones being flown without any sort of permit or knowledge of basic aviation law, airspace, etc
So you must already be concerned as this is the case at present?

Of course there is small print restricting use around airports and such,
Hardly small print. They are regulations. They are well publicised rules. ALL of the model shops I have visited around Australia have posters up explaining the restrictions and shops appear to hand out this CASA leaflet when selling "drones".
http://<br /> https://www.casa.gov.a...ontrolmodelpdf

The Phantom style "drones" already have airport restrictions built into their control module, called NO FLY ZONES...

No FLY Zones | DJI

Again, I am sure you are aware of this. DJI is certainly one of the market leaders.

The problem still remains with people building a "drone" from a kit themselves and so not having a No Fly Zone or possibly not receiving a flyer when they buy a ready to fly "drone".

The 2 Kg limit would be something like a Flamewheel carrying a Go Pro camera.



As pointed out above, birds are more of a hazard along with other aircraft.

So in summary, as a pilot flying jets around the country in RPT operations I do not feel this change will in any way diminish safety. You seem to believe that this cahnge will open the flood gates and we will have dozens of new drone operators filling the sky with <2kg drones.

I have some sympathy for the current drone operators who have spent time and money getting RPAS qualifications only to find they only are required above 2 kg.

Such is life. Many people spent years learning morse to get an instrument rating only to see the requirement dropped. Mant CB fans purchased licenses for years and then the whole area was opened up with no licence required.

There is an old saying in business that leaders are bleeders. Go in early to try to make an early profit and the risk is a changing regulatory environment. Well here it is.

As you would know, anyone who wants to fly a DSLR or cinema quality camera needs a platform greater than 2kg.

Happy flying.
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Old 5th Apr 2016, 06:05
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Originally Posted by Icarus2001 View Post
I have some sympathy for the current drone operators who have spent time and money getting RPAS qualifications only to find they only are required above 2 kg.....

....As you would know, anyone who wants to fly a DSLR or cinema quality camera needs a platform greater than 2kg.
Quite correct. Those RPAS qualifications won't be wasted though - the future of unmanned aircraft is above 2kg anyway. There is more to drones than taking some photos and videos from your Phantom. Those that think they can make a buck flying small drones will soon be in for a rude shock. Come September onwards there will be many competing for a relatively small and cheap piece of UAV pie.
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Old 5th Apr 2016, 07:21
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No need to over regulate such a simple harmless thing to protect business.
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Old 5th Apr 2016, 09:56
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These are the most balanced comments I have seen on the issue so far. Elsewhere detractors are purporting gloom and doom, all under the guise of 'safety'.

From where I'm sitting, this looks like some good common sense regulating by the regulator. The risk to aircraft is minimal, although I would agree that CASA could do more with regard to public awareness.
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Old 6th Apr 2016, 09:48
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Icarus: I am certainly speaking for our commercial interests, and made no attempt to hide that, hence my sig.

However, it is not because this is going to take any business away from us, we operate larger craft and don't compete for the type of work which the <2kg amendments will allow. Our concern is that the accidents this will almost certainly lead to will be a major setback to our new industry, for example CASA might have a knee-jerk reaction the first time one bounces off an airliner on approach (perhaps having their hand forced by the media/public) and cease all UAV ops for some time, even for licensed+insured operators.

Although very surprised by the lack of concern here, I'll respectfully acknowledge that this isn't the right audience and leave it be.

All the best, fly safe.

Andrew Chapman
Australian UAV, Director of Operations NSW
Australian UAV | Drone Aerial Mapping, Survey and Inspection
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Old 7th Apr 2016, 00:41
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.....and cease all UAV ops for some time, even for licensed+insured operators.
I suspect that may be like trying to flag down the Indian Pacific with a lit match stick?

Although very surprised by the lack of concern here, I'll respectfully acknowledge that this isn't the right audience and leave it be.
I suspect you are addressing the right audience? I suspect their risk assessment is based upon the fact RC aircraft have been around for decades, drones more recent, there must be "very significant numbers" of both out in the community, and so far no mid airs. Not saying it can't happen, but there is a lot of air up there and despite the cowboys and kids with RC models and drones, a bingle hasn't happened.

I think we're only seeing the tip of the ice berg for a whole new innovative industry. Freight companies and fast food outlets are talking about drone deliveries. Aerial agriculture is experimenting with drone application of insecticides. Police overseas are using drones for "traffic management" (another name for a Flying Tax Office!). Governments are suggesting the F-35 may be the last new fighter to carry a pilot. Our local Council was even considering drone surveillance of the new swimming pool legislation.

Far fetched??? So was non stop flight to Europe and men on the Moon when I was a kid!!
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Old 7th Apr 2016, 01:36
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I suspect you are addressing the right audience? I suspect their risk assessment is based upon the fact RC aircraft have been around for decades, drones more recent, there must be "very significant numbers" of both out in the community, and so far no mid airs. Not saying it can't happen, but there is a lot of air up there and despite the cowboys and kids with RC models and drones, a bingle hasn't happened.
Against a sub 2kg drone I'd back an aircraft every single time!
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Old 7th Apr 2016, 03:31
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Originally Posted by tail wheel View Post
I suspect their risk assessment is based upon the fact RC aircraft have been around for decades, drones more recent, there must be "very significant numbers" of both out in the community, and so far no mid airs. Not saying it can't happen, but there is a lot of air up there and despite the cowboys and kids with RC models and drones, a bingle hasn't happened.
The fact that RC aircraft have been around for decades is irrelevant.

RC aircraft have always been flown by line of sight which of course limits their altitudes greatly, and unless you are experienced you will lost orientation very quickly as they get smaller, so "self preservation" means amateurs fly low.

Proper RC flying fields where larger, heavier aircraft fly are marked on charts, the odd "foamy" you might see at a local park is no issue.

The issue with drones is the first person view and gyro stabilisation means anyone can fly them beyond visual range, with no skill required and at full-size aircraft heights.
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Old 7th Apr 2016, 05:35
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The issue with drones is the first person view and gyro stabilisation means anyone can fly them beyond visual range, with no skill required and at full-size aircraft heights.
I mostly agree, however this change to the regulations will not change this fact.

What this sort of change means is say someone like a builder or real estate agent who wants an aerial photograph of a property can now do it themselves rather than have to pay a RPV commercial operator to take the photos for them. So they can buy a $1500 phantom and throw it in the boot of the car and take their own photos.

This to me seems sensible, in fact I am surprised by CASA with this one.

Although very surprised by the lack of concern here, I'll respectfully acknowledge that this isn't the right audience and leave it be.
I am surprised that you are surprised Andrew. Perhaps by the right audience do you mean that you did not get the response and support that you had hoped for? The world is a funny place is it not.

Last edited by Icarus2001; 9th Apr 2016 at 01:18.
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Old 7th Apr 2016, 21:37
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OzSync:

The offical FAI world record for an electric model is 4539m/14,892ft (set by Gian Aghem in 1995)

The offical FAI world record for an IC model is 8205m/26,919ft (set by Maynard Hill in 1970)
Seems many of todays RC models have cameras installed, similar to drones? Check Youtube, dozens of film clips from RC models - this seems to be one?



Potentially drones and RC models could be a safety problem but haven't been so far.
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Old 7th Apr 2016, 22:47
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What this sort of change means is say someone like a builder or real estate agent who wants an aerial photograph of a property can now do it themselves rather than have to pay a RPV commercial operator to take the photos for them. So they can buy a $1500 phantom and throw it in the boot of the car and take their own photos.
Exactly -- if they had all done some sort of basic training and were insured, I'd have much less of a problem with that.

But how many real estate guys do you know who are able to look up a chart to determine controlled airspace, military zones, restricted airspace and helipads? The most likely outcome is they'll all just fly wherever they like, at best steering clear of being "close" to the main airports, which for the general public means a few hundred meters at best from our experience (we get inquiries almost daily to fly jobs near airports and people are always surprised when we can't).

The sub-2kg amendment is putting a lot of trust in people who don't have any knowledge of aviation to do the right thing while aviating.

AUAV's full thoughts here, if anyone is interested:
Press Release 2016_04_08 - Comments on CASA?s Proposed Sub-2kg Drone Amendments - AUAV

I guess we'll just have to sit back and see! Until we see the first collisions, it's all just hypothetical.

AC.
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Old 8th Apr 2016, 05:22
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The links between reduced safety and the new rule changes are very weak. How many real estate agents are going/need to be operating at a great height, let alone above 400 feet? Being a pilot you should know that even at 400 feet, a drone has to be very damn close to an airport to be a threat.

Is it a concern that you will have less work through the doors? Is the loss of income the real reason for trying to make a safety case?

Last edited by VH-FTS; 8th Apr 2016 at 11:13.
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Old 8th Apr 2016, 06:09
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I can understand why Andrew is upset.

He has the expectation that as soon as the magic word, "safety", is mentioned that instantly the most conservative approach is taken, regardless of any common sense whatsoever to the contrary.

This country is suffocating under the weight of well meaning, but practically useless, compliance and regulatory requirements. The vast majority of this is a knee jerk reaction by politicians to win votes, or to line the pockets of certain organisations in the compliance industry.

I laugh every time I spend a night in a hotel and read the safety compliance "test and tag" sticker on the cord of the hair dryer, and it has to be done on every component every year. This sort of compliance nonsense isn't required in any other country that I'm aware of, just Australia. Why? Is our power supply more dangerous than anywhere else on the planet.

There is a huge industry in this country in safety, environmental and security compliance. I have a mate who is a civil engineer, working on large NSW state road projects. On any project, large or small, the average cost of compliance is 30% of the total project cost. That's your tax dollars people.

I actually applaud CASA (first time ever) for striking a balance on this, rather than just taking the easy road of over regulation we expect from our government departments.

And no, I don't own a drone, don't own a r/c aircraft of any sort, and my photography skills are limited to what I can do with an iPhone. I do fly for a living though.

Last edited by IsDon; 11th Apr 2016 at 12:02.
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Old 8th Apr 2016, 06:18
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And congratulations Mr Chapman for getting a heap of publicity in The Australian today. I notice you are flying a DJI Inspire, while saying "we challenge anyone who says a 2kg drone is harmless...".

How much exactly does an Inspire weigh? Does it actually fit into the 2kg rules you reckon affect safety?

And are we arguing that a 2kg drone is a safety threat to individuals or aircraft? The rules haven't really relaxed about flying near people...

Great PR though for your businesses.
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Old 9th Apr 2016, 00:20
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Interesting - DJI Phantom 4 Specs:

AIRCRAFT
Weight (Including Battery) : 1380 g
Max Ascent Speed : 6 m/s (Sport mode)
Max Descent Speed : 4 m/s (Sport mode)
Max Speed :20 m/s (Sport mode)
Max Service Ceiling Above Sea Level :19685 feet (6000 m)
Max Flight Time :Approx. 28 minutes
Operating Temperature Range :32 to 104 F (0 to 40 C)
Satellite Systems :GPS / GLONASS
Hovering Accuracy :Vertical:+/- 0.1 m (when Vision Positioning is active) or +/-0.5 m
Horizontal:+/- 0.3 m (when Vision Positioning is active) or +/-1.5 m

They certainly get up there and packed full of technology!!
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Old 9th Apr 2016, 14:48
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Unfortunately it is going to take the likes of a real estate egent with zero airspace knowledge to launch a drone within 3nm of a major airport and hit an RPT aircraft before anything will change. Just look at the number of times unauthorised drone operations are appearing on the ATIS at major airports around the country. There hasn't been a collision yet but there have been some near misses. CASA somehow believe that a drone under 2kg cannot do much damage, I beg to differ. A DJI Phantom colliding with a jet doing 250 knots would cause some serious damage. Just have a look at this: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=HtArLIXZXRI.

Sure you will always have idiots trying to see how high they can get their drone or how far they can fly purely on FPV, but I do believe that this 2kg commercial exemption is only going to make it worse by encouraging ignorant individuals and companies to push the boundaries to make money.
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Old 9th Apr 2016, 19:50
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Another vote in favour of sensible regulation, well done CASA on this one. [email protected] pointers are fine, just don't point them at aircraft. Drones are fine, just don't fly them near airports. Pretty simple stuff really.

BTW the above linked video is fake, http://www.branit.com/branit-blog/2015/6/23/drone-hits-airliner
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