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Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) begins process of drone safety review

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has released the Terms of Reference for the review of aviation safety regulation of remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS), commonly known as drones.

Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester said the review's findings and recommendations would ensure future growth in drone operations has safely integrated into Australian airspace.

“The Australian Government is committed to fostering an environment that ensures the safety of commercial and privately owned aircraft, drone operators, and other people and property, while facilitating growth and innovation in the use of drones in Australia,” Mr. Chester said.

“We are already seeing drones being successfully used in agriculture, mining, infrastructure assessment, search and rescue, fire and policing operations, aerial mapping and scientific research.

“CASA will be mindful that any proposed new regulatory requirements should also support the potential of drone operations to improve productivity, reduce costs and improve workplace safety across a range of industries and applications.”

Mr. Chester said the review would examine a number of regulatory options raised by stakeholders with a view to improving aviation safety in Australia.

“We want to gain an understanding of how registration, education and training, geo-fencing and shielding capabilities could potentially impact on both commercial and recreational drone operations within Australia,” Mr. Chester said.

“The review will also consider developments overseas, including work done by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and other international aviation safety agencies.

CASA will soon release a discussion paper for public comment on the range of safety issues to be examined during the review.”

“I encourage those interested in aviation safety to contribute to this important review, the outcome of which will provide CASA with a firm basis to consider any future regulatory changes.”                    

The terms of reference for the review are as follows, with particular reference to:                    

The relative safety benefits and cost effectiveness of:

  • introducing mandatory registration, education and training for all RPAS operators;
  • the deployment of geofencing capabilities for RPAS; and
  • any other mechanisms to enhance aviation safety associated with RPAS operations in Australian airspace and managing the relevant risks.

The effectiveness of CASA’s operating model with respect to the regulation of RPAs to ensure it takes into account:

  • technology growth of the RPAS community;
  • operational growth of the RPAS community; and
  • developments in ICAO and other international aviation safety agencies.

Last month, CASA released a safety app to inform drone users of safety regulations and help them identify no-fly zones.

The full terms of references for the drone safety review by CASA can be found here.

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