Australia was one of the first countries in the world to introduce legislation governing the operation of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA), commonly referred to as drones. Part 101 of the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 1998 (CASR) was introduced in 2002 in response to the need for an effective regulatory framework within which the development of this rapidly evolving technology could progress without compromising the safety of other airspace users and people and property on the ground.
Since that time the RPA sector in Australia, as elsewhere in the world, has experienced enormous growth, driven by advancements in technology that continue to fuel commercial and recreational consumer demand, while providing easier access to increasingly sophisticated devices at relatively low cost. As of 24 July 2017 there were 5,870 remotely piloted aircraft licence (RePL) holders and 1,106 remotely piloted aircraft operator’s certificate (ReOC) holders in Australia. The vast majority of RPA owners and operators are recreational users who require neither a RePL nor a ReOC. It is estimated that there are at least 50,000 drones being operated in Australia today, mostly for sport and recreational purposes.
Globally, aviation safety regulators are facing the same kinds of challenges: to maintain high levels of safety without unnecessarily impeding progress or unduly constraining commercial opportunities to use a technology capable of a multitude of beneficial humanitarian, economic and recreational applications. Responding to these challenges, CASA introduced important amendments to the regulations that took effect in September 2016.
Discussion paper responses can be submitted via the consultation hub. Public comment closes Friday 22 September 2017.