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Australian drone laws

16 March, 2016 | The Sphere Drones Blog

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Owning a drone is the ‘in thing’ of 2016 and of course there are several rules and regulations you need to know before flying your new toy:

1) Difference between Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) and Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA)

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) are flown just for fun - sport and recreation. (Sphere Drones are currently stocking the following UAS drones; DJI Phantom 3 Professional, Phantom 3 Advance, Phantom 3 Standard, Phantom 3 4k, Phantom 4, Inspire 1, Hexo+, 3DR Solo)

Remotely Piloted Aircrafts (RPA) are used for commercial, government or research purposes 

2) Licensing 

UAS - No license is required however it is illegal to fly a UAS for commercial hire and reward unless you have an Unmanned Operators Certificate covering that type of operation. This is so every operator has the same general aviation knowledge in line with a private pilot’s licence and specific UAS skills.

RPA - To fly any type of RPA for commercial reward you do need an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) controller’s certificate and an unmanned operator’s certificate (UOC) for your business.

3) Unmanned Operators Certificate (UOC)

Interested in attaining an Unmanned Operators Certificate (UOC)? Contact RPAS Training direct via or 1300 RPAS TRAINING (1300 772 787) to organise your certification.

4) What’s allowed


a) You should only fly a model aircraft in visual line-of-sight:

    • no night flying
    • no flying in or through cloud or fog
    • ability to see the UAS with your own eyes at all times

b) You must not fly a model aircraft closer than 30 metres to vehicles, boats, buildings or people

c) You must not fly a model aircraft over populous areas such as beaches, other people’s backyards, heavily populated parks or sports ovals where there is a game in progress

d) In controlled airspace, which covers most Australian cities, model aircraft must not be flown higher than 120 metres

e) You should not fly closer than 5.5km from an airfield


a) Unmanned aircraft activities are approved for operations over unpopulated areas up to 120 metres above ground level

b) Special approvals are also required for other areas

c) Operations are not permitted in controlled airspace without CASA approval and coordination with Airservices Australia

d) Can be operated in visual meteorological conditions (VMC) and/or instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) with appropriate approvals

All information taken directly from Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).

For more information send your questions direct to our live chat! Or, call us direct on 02 9318 0566 at any time during business hours. Our staff will be happy to assist you with your questions and enquiries.   

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