New CASA drone rules to enforce registration for recreational flyers

Stricter regulations on drone flying are coming into play from July 1, 2019.
Stricter regulations on drone flying are coming into play from July 1, 2019.

Flying a drone can be a lot of fun, or an increasingly popular commercial tool (or both).

However, a new suite of regulations is about to come into play to make the skies safer regardless of the pilot's experience.

Some of the existing rules for recreational drone users include not flying higher than 120 metres above the ground and keeping drones at least 5.5km away from controlled aerodromes.

However, from July 1, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) is planning to introduce a national drone registration and accreditation scheme for all drone users, including recreational.

While full details are yet to be finalised, chief among the proposed changes is a requirement for registration and certification for any operator of a drone weighing more than 250g - including anyone just flying one for fun on the weekends.

CASA said accreditation would be via an online education course to make sure you know the rules - "basically, watching video and answering a quiz". It would come with a small cost involved, less than $20 CASA proposed.

For commercial flyers, registration is compulsory for all drones regardless of weight and is likely to be from $100-160 per drone.

Flyers under 16 years of age will need to be supervised by someone 18 or older who is accredited.

CASA said the new rules would be phased in and recreational users will not have to register until November 2019, but that the registration would be applicable to both new and existing drones.

DRONE RULES EXPLAINED:Watch this video and this one

Bega Valley photographer and drone owner Warren Purnell said having more flyers registered and accredited was a positive safety move.

However, he also felt it was along similar lines to gun laws, where law-abiding owners get regulated and slugged with the costs associated with policing the rogues.

"I can be cynical at times but do understand the underlying issues," Mr Purnell said with a chuckle.

"You have to think...if your wife and children were on a Rex flight out of Merimbula, would you want their plane brought down by a drone? These laws and regulations won't work perfectly, but it will hopefully keep people safer."