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Navigating New Restricted Areas for Drone Flying in Australia

The Dawn of Automated Airspace Authorisations

Welcome to a revolutionary era in the Australian drone industry. The recent developments in automated airspace authorisations, especially for Remotely Piloted Aircraft Operator’s Certificate (ReOC) holders, mark a significant milestone. This article will delve into these advancements and explore how they are reshaping the landscape for drone operations in Australia.

What’s Happening?

  • The Trial: Remotely Piloted Aircraft Operator’s Certificate (ReOC) holders can now apply for permission to fly within 5.5 km of select Australian airports and in restricted airspace around Sydney Harbour.
  • Key Locations: The trial encompasses areas near Adelaide, Canberra, Perth, and Sydney airports, including Sydney Harbour (R405 A/B).

Benefits of Automated Authorisations

  • Efficiency: Approval times have been dramatically reduced from weeks to mere minutes.
  • Business Advantages: These swift authorisations allow operators to secure more business opportunities in new locations, faster than ever.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: This process saves both time and money for operators.

Navigating the Trial: Requirements and Application Process

Eligibility and Participation

  • Active ReOC: Only organisations with an active ReOC are eligible.
  • Chief Remote Pilot’s Role: They must submit requests for flights within specified areas and conditions.

How to Apply

  • Use CASA-verified Apps: Applications are made through participating CASA-verified drone safety apps.
  • Free Participation: The trial is free, with no charge for any authorisations issued.

Trial Specifics: Understanding the Rules

Flight Conditions

  • Location Restrictions: Flights within 5.5 km of specific airports and in Sydney Harbour (R405 A/B).
  • Drone Specifications: Registered drones with a maximum take-off weight of less than 25 kg.
  • Time and Duration: Flights only during daylight hours and not exceeding one calendar day.
  • Advance Notice: A maximum of 30 days in advance.

Pilot Requirements

  • Licences and Qualifications: Pilots must hold a valid remote pilot licence (RePL) and an aviation radio qualification.

The Approval Process: How It Works

  • Data Checks: Requests are checked against both CASA and Airservices data for approval.
  • Real-Time Notifications: Approvals are communicated through the CASA-verified drone safety app.
  • Continuous Updates: Operators are notified of any new area approval instruments during the trial.

Simplifying Operations

  • No Need for ATC Notifications: Approved flights in the trial do not require notifications to the air traffic control tower.
  • Skipping NOTAMs: There’s no need to submit a notice to airmen (NOTAM) for these flights.

Joining the Movement: Getting Started with the Trial

  • Signing Up: Participation requires signing up through a CASA-verified drone safety app.
  • App Providers: Apps like AVCRM RPA Manager, FlyFreely, ok2fly, and OpenSky by Wing Aviation are available.
  • Additional Conditions: Some providers may have extra requirements, such as a non-disclosure agreement.

Legal Framework: Staying Compliant with Instruments

  • Following Instruments: Compliance with CASA’s instruments is crucial.
  • Staying Updated: Operators must use the latest versions of the instruments for their flights.

Conclusion: Embracing the Future of Australian Drone Operations

The advent of automated airspace authorisations for ReOC holders in Australia signifies a significant leap forward in the drone industry. This trial not only offers unprecedented efficiency and flexibility but also paves the way for a more dynamic and responsive approach to drone operations within the country. As we embrace these changes, the potential for growth and innovation in Australian aviation is boundless.

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