Being the tech-savvy lawyers that we are, it's important to keep up with the latest trends. And there isn't much that's more on trend right now than drones (also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV's), remotely piloted aircraft or model aircraft). With the acquisition of an office drone imminent, we decided to look at the top 5 things drone owners need to know.
1. The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) manages the use of drones in Australia under the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations. CASA distinguishes between model aircraft (drones used for fun) and remotely piloted aircraft (drones use for business or research). The same model drone can be categorised as either a model aircraft or remotely piloted aircraft it's what you do with it that will determine what CASA calls it.
2. If you intend to fly a drone for commercial reward, you need an unmanned aerial vehicle controller's certificate and unmanned operator's certificate for your business. It has been speculated that these requirements will be loosened by CASA this year so that commercial remotely piloted aircraft under 2 kilograms will be exempt from certification requirements.
3. Under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, it is an offence to carry out a commercial activity in a Commonwealth reserve, so remotely piloted aircraft operators should ensure that any business activities are carried out well away from national parks.
4. There is currently no guidance on how the privacy of individuals can be protected from remotely piloted aircraft. The Privacy Act only applies to Commonwealth agencies and organisations with an annual turnover of more than $3 million (with exceptions). As such, most small remotely piloted aircraft operators would not be subject to privacy legislation. There is however increasing concern that people might be filmed by drones in their own backyards without consent, so it's possible that legislative reform will come this way soon.
5. While you don't need any formal qualifications to operate a drone for fun, you do need to observe some rules. For example, you can only fly your aircraft in your line of sight and during daylight hours, and you can't fly over populous areas, like beaches or other people's backyards.