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An interview with CASA Australia – Drones are flying high

CASA Australia took time to answer our questions on drone regulations and innovation in the country

As part of our effort to capture the current state of global drone regulations we are reaching out to aviation authorities in as many countries as possible.  Here is our chat with CASA Australia.

Q. Peter, where can the average Australian citizen look on the web to find the current regulations on drone use for hobbyist or commercial operators?

CASA has extensive information on its web site for recreational drone flyers and commercial operators. We also provide retailers with a handout sheet with the rules and safety information for recreational flyers. CASA’s drone rules have been in place since 2002. There are currently 220 approved commercial drone operators in Australia, with another 120 applications pending. This is a rapidly growing sector of Australian aviation.

CASA Australia Main web page

Flyer handout for recreational flyers

Q. We recently chatted with the FAA (in the US) about the need to research and test, how is CASA approaching this same need in Australia?

CASA has facilitated a number of drone research projects for many years, projects such as the Outback Challenge.

There has recently been research and testing of drones by Google on a Queensland station.

Q. Many are predicting billions of dollars added to the global economy (over the next few years) because of the use of drones. Does CASA see drones as an economic driver or more of a hobbyist toy?

With 220 commercial operators in Australia drones are a significant sector of the aviation industry. We expect this number to be around 300 by the end of 2015 and it will keep growing. So drones will be both commercial and recreational. Due to the growth in the sector and the changes in technology CASA is undertaking a full review of the current regulations to ensure they can keep pace with the sector and not hinder its development.

Q. In the United States there have been a couple of incidents with citizens flying drones onto the grounds of the President, and in Japan the Prime Minister’s office had a drone land on their rooftop. Have their been any security incidents like this in Australia?

No security incidents in Australia but there have been incidents. A woman was hit by a drone during a marathon race in Geraldton Western Australia last year and sustained cuts to her head.

A drone crashed into the Sydney Harbour Bridge several years ago.

Q. Does CASA partner with other National Aviation department/ministries on policy and other concerns?

We work with the air traffic control service provider, Airservices Australia, when commercial operators wish to fly in controlled airspace. We have provided advice to a Federal Parliamentary Committee looking at privacy issues.

Q. If there was one message CASA Australia wanted citizens to be aware of with regard to drone usage, what would it be?

Drones are part of Australian aviation and it is important to understand they are covered by safety rules to protect people on the ground and other aircraft. The rules are simple for both recreational and commercial drones and by following them the sector can continue to grow and develop.

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