This has been a momentous period for Micro UAS. The
FAA’s Aviation Rulemaking Committee has made its
recommendations, the first step in the long process of
rulemaking. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, the
Australians have just finished their Micro UAS rulemaking.
Today, we take a look at the Australian approach and how it
compares with the FAA’s philosophy.
First, the Australians have decided to officially drop the term
UAV and replace it with RPA (Remotely Piloted Aircraft). This
change was done to make the regulations consistent with the
terminology used by the International Civil Aviation Organization
(ICAO). The regulations then go on to create five classes of
less than 100 grams (3.5 ounces)
RPA 100 grams to 2
kg (3.5 ounces to 4.4 pounds)
2 kg to 25 kg (4.4 pounds to 55 pounds)
25 kg to 150 kg (55 pounds to 330 pounds)
150 kg (330 pounds)
Depending on how the various classes of RPA are used, they
become either excluded or included RPA. Micro RPA are always
excluded RPA, and are not subject to government regulation.
Very small RPA are excluded if they are being flown for hobby or
recreational purposes or are being operated under “standard
RPA operating conditions.”
Small RPA are excluded if they are being flown as hobby aircraft
or if they are flown by or on behalf of the owner, over the
owner’s land, and under “standard RPA operating
conditions.” In addition, the small RPA cannot be flown
for compensation or hire. Essentially, the regulations do not
cover flying your own small UAS on your own land for your own
purposes. For example, a farmer could fly his UAS on his land
to support his crop growing, without coming under the RPA
Medium RPA are excluded on the same terms as small RPA, but only
if they are also being flown by someone who “holds a remote
pilot license” that is valid for that type of RPA.
The standard operating conditions are fairly easy to meet.
Operate within visual line of sight,
Operate during daylight at or below 400′,
Remain at least 30 meters (98 feet) from persons not involved
in the operation of the RPA,
Outside a populated area,
Remain 3 nautical miles from an airport
Away from any fire or police emergency without permission.
Of all of these changes, the most significant are the clear
definition of a micro RPA that is freed from all aviation
regulation, and the adoption of this new philosophy towards
operating RPA on your own property. Rather than drawing the
line for regulation where any commercial activity is involved as we
do in the United States, the Australians are limiting their
regulatory activities to circumstances where a third party is
flying for compensation or hire or you want to fly outside the
standard conditions. CASA is essentially telling even large
commercial entities, if you want to operate your own UAS on your
own property to support your business, whether it be mining,
agriculture or similar activities, just fly using the standard
conditions, and we really don't want to be involved in the
day-to-day supervision of your operations.
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This decision will be significant to aviation industry participants in assessing whether claimants in the context of international or domestic carriage by air have commenced claims in an appropriate forum in Australia.
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