The uptake and sheer popularity of drone technology – both recreational and commercial – has meant the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) and other law makers in Australia have had to implement laws to manage and meet drone use requirements and demand.
While it can be a complex beast, we hope this article on recreational drone use will clarify the current rules and regulations and ease your mind if you think you’ve been operating on the wrong side of the law!
OK, before we begin, we want to note the rules below only cover aviation safety. Other rules may apply depending on where you are flying. These additional rules could be in effect and enforced by local councils, national parks or state-based government organisations like environmental agencies.
We encourage you to always research the area where you want to fly and check with your local council or national park website on any rules or regulations that may apply before you fly.
Can I fly there?
A great tool we recommend for every pilot, recreational or commercial, is CASA's free safety app, "Can I fly there?". Downloadable from for Android and Apple operating systems, it shows pilots all restricted airspace in any given location around Australia.
Laws and Rules
The rules of flying for recreation are not all that complicated, rather driven (largely) by common sense. CASA has developed a list of relatively simple rules to follow.
- First and foremost, you must not fly your drone in any way that could create a hazard for any other aircraft as we are sharing the airspace with manned craft! We don’t want you to bring down a commercial jet!
- You can only fly during daylight hours and ALWAYS keep your drone within a visual line of site. CASA describe this as ‘being able to always see and orient’ the drone with your own eyes – not another device – e.g., binoculars. Pretty simple.
- You cannot fly your drone any higher than 120 metres. Think of a football field on end and you’ll always be OK. It is important to note that this is 120m above GROUND level. E.g. If you had a 120m long string under your drone, it has to touch the ground underneath it - Particularly important for flights around cliffs etc.
- For obvious safety reasons, you need to keep your drone at least 30 metres away for any other person.
- You cannot fly your drone near any area affecting public safety or where any emergency operations are in play. This includes road accidents, police operations and firefighting. As soon as the lights and sirens go on, the drone needs to be landed - let them do their jobs!
- Pretty obvious, but you can only fly one drone at a time.
- You cannot fly your drone over populous areas . While this is a little nonspecific, it means don’t fly it over beaches or parks, sports ovals or events. If your drone comes down, you can imagine the safety issues and trouble you would be in.
- A little more complicated, but if your drone weigh more than 100 grams (check the information on your drone), you need to keep it at least 5.5km away from a controlled aerodrome. This is a really important one and there are other conditions that apply so we encourage you to visit the CASA website for more information. www.casa.gov.au.
- This one is simply common courtesy. Respect other people’s privacy and don’t record or photograph them without their consent. If you do, it may breach privacy laws.
- You cannot fly your drone for commercial gain – that is, for money or reward – unless you have a remote pilot licence or are flying in the sub-2kg drone category (Make sure you read our article on commercial drone laws!)
OK, aviation recreation rules in nutshell.
They are common sense really.
Follow the rules and have fun and remember your drone is your responsibility.
If you want to learn more about the wonderful world of recreational drones, come and visit
us at www.spheredrones.com.au or at Sphere Drones HQ at Unit 21/110 Bourke Road, Alexandria 2015.
Source information: www.casa.gov.au.