5. Complying with Australian drone piloting safety regulations

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When flying a drone in Australia, whether for fun or for work, you need to follow a set of safety regulations put in place to ensure that it causes no to minimal disturbance to you and others, on the ground and in the air.

Here are the basics of what you need to know, starting with recreational drone use.

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Now, let’s compare that with flying drones commercially.

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To recap, the general rules for flying drones in Australia remain the same regardless of your reason for flying, but flying drones for work also involves getting accreditation and drone registration.

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Let’s go through the essential safety regulations once again:

  • You must not fly your drone higher than 120 metres (400 feet) above ground level as it may be dangerous to other aircrafts and their passengers
  • You must keep your drone at least 30 metres away from other people, unless they are helping you to control the drone
  • You must only fly one drone at a time
  • You must keep your drone within visual line-of-sight. This means always being able to see the drone with your own eyes (rather than through a device or on a screen)
  • You must only fly during the day and you must not fly through clouds or fog, as this disrupts your ability to visually monitor drone operations
  • You must fly at least 5.5 kilometres away from a controlled airport, which generally have a control tower at them
  • If you're near a helicopter landing site or smaller aerodrome without a control tower, you can fly your drone within 5.5 kilometres; however, if you become aware of manned aircraft nearby, you will have to manoeuvre away and land your drone as quickly and safely as possible
  • You must not fly over or above people or in a populous area. This could include beaches, parks, events, or sport ovals when a game is in progress
  • You must not fly your drone over or near an area affecting public safety or where emergency operations are underway. This could include situations such as a car crash, police operations, a fire or firefighting efforts, or search and rescue
  • You must not operate your drone in a way that creates a hazard to another aircraft, person, property, or wildlife
  • Finally, you must respect personal privacy. This means not recording or photographing people without their consent

If you are completing a work assignment and your project brief is at odds with the rules above, you need to be prepared to say no and suggest alternative solutions that comply with safety regulations. Also, always make sure to check if your local area imposes any additional restrictions on flying a drone and obtain any required permits prior to heading out on location.

Drone flying safety compliance check-point

Okay, let’s check your understanding of the safety policies established in Australia for operating a drone. Go through the scenarios below and submit your responses through VideoAsk.

Safety compliance scenarios

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Project-specific safety considerations

ok2fly safety map

OpenSky safety map

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NSW drones in parks policy

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State and local differences in drone flying regulations (optional)

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Remember to always put safety first and be responsible when operating a drone! You now have all the necessary knowledge to present the drone surveying project plan to your client. Let's do this!

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