Aerial Photography and the Law
In Australia there are very specific rules and regulations which must be followed when using a Drone or Remotely Operated Aerial Vehicle (ROAV).
The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) is responsible for the regulation of civil air operations in Australia and the operation of Australian aircraft overseas…. This includes the regulation of Australia’s safety laws for drones (or more technically correct, remotely piloted aircraft (RPA)) whether they are being flown commercially or recreationally/for fun.
CASA has a variety of rules and regulations, which vary depending on the weight of the aircraft and wether or not it is being flown for commercail or recreational purposes.
Drone regulation is a fairly dynamic area – so rules and regulations can change at short notice… however, as at June 2017, the main criteria for recreational flying are :
- You should only fly in visual line-of-sight, in day visual meteorological conditions (VMC). Which means :
- No night flying (generally).
- No flying in or through cloud or fog.
- Be able to see the aircraft with your own eyes (rather than through first-person-view [FPV, binoculars, telescopes]) at all times, (unless you operate under the procedures of an approved model flying association.
- You must not fly closer than 30 metres to vehicles, boats, buildings or people.
- You must not fly over populous areas such as beaches, heavily populated parks, or sports ovals while they are in use.
- In controlled airspace, which covers most Australian cities, you must not fly higher than 120 metres (400 feet) above the ground.
- You must not fly in a way that creates a hazard to other aircraft, so you should keep at least 5.5 km away from airfields, aerodromes and helicopter landing sites.
- You must not fly your RPA in or over prohibited / restricted area, unless you have the permission of the authority controlling the area.
- In restricted airspace, aircraft movements are reduced to those with certain specified permissions. Examples of restricted airspace include airspace around military installations or military controlled aerodromes, over Sydney Harbour, high-density flying operations or at an air show or other large public event. Restricted airspace may also be imposed by police for safety or security reasons near bushfires or major crime scenes. It is illegal to fly your RPA in these areas without permission.
Operations within the 3nm (5.5km) radius of an aerodrome or helicopter landing site are possible and lawful providing you comply with the Standard Operating Conditions listed above and ensure that you do not operate:
- on the approach and departure path, or
- within the movement area, or
- create a hazard to aircraft that may be using those areas.