From Thursday, Australians will no longer need operators’ certificates and remote pilot licences to commercially fly drones weighing less than 2kg.
Instead, they will need to register online with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) five days before their first flight.
Under new regulations coming into effect on Thursday, operators will save about $1500 in licence fees and up to $5000 in pilot training fees, and be spared up to a six-month wait for a licence.
The official designation of drones has also changed from unmanned aerial vehicles to remotely piloted aircraft (RPA).
CASA spokesman Peter Gibson told insuranceNEWS.com.au the “stringent operating conditions” and notification system under the new rules effectively rule out city use.
Unlicensed operators of sub-2kg RPAs cannot fly within 30m of a building or people, or within 5.5km of a controlled airport.
“Those two restrictions alone take out one-third of Sydney, so it’s not a free for all,” Mr Gibson said. “How would you ever get 30m away from a building in the city?
“You’re never going to be able to use them in the city in the sub-2kg category [without a licence].”
CASA established the new regulations after analysis concluded the risk of damage to another aircraft or people is a lot lower in the sub-2kg category than for larger RPAs.
Mr Gibson says the biggest winners are users in the outer suburbs and the bush.
“It’s great for regional and less populated areas and outer suburbs – for example, a real estate agent in the outer suburbs.”
He says the new regulations throw up issues for users and insurers, such as whether insurers will cover someone without training or a licence.