An amendment to legislation for commercial drone operation in Australia has been given the thumbs up by the Australian Government, allowing small operators to conduct commercial work without an operator's certificate or remote pilot license from 29 September this year.
Once the legislation is implemented in six months time, if you have a drone under 2kg and want to do commercial work, you won't have to apply for the $5,000 to $10,000 "Unmanned Aircraft Operators Certificate" in order to do so — but you will need to inform the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) with a once-off registration.
Operators will also need to abide by "mandatory conditions" or risk penalties. The conditions include flying only in day visual line of sight, below 120 metres, keeping more than 30 metres away from other people, flying more than 5.5 kilometres from controlled aerodromes and not operating near emergency situations.
Private landholders will also be allowed to carry out "a range of activities" on their own land without the need for approvals. This includes remotely piloted aircraft up to 25kg, as long as no money has changed hands for the flights.
The changes are designed to "cut red tape" without compromising on safety, CASA's Director of Aviation Safety, Mark Skidmore said in a statement.
"While safety must always come first, CASA's aim is to lighten the regulatory requirements where we can," Mr Skidmore said. "The amended regulations recognise the different safety risks posed by different types of remotely piloted aircraft.
"People intending to utilise the new very small category of commercial operations should understand this can only be done if the standard operating conditions are strictly followed and CASA is notified.
"Penalties can apply if these conditions are not met."