Game of Drones

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The Game of Drones” has well and truly begun and Universities are at the centre of the action in exploring possible uses in education, research and other activities.

Drones are becoming more commonplace, but before you play this game you must know the rules and ensure that any operations comply with the legislation.

A drone is also known as a “Remotely piloted aircraft” (RPA) and their use is regulated under the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 1998 (made under the Civil Aviation Act 1988). These Regulations are administered by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).

CASA is concerned about public safety and so to avoid any conflict between drones and other aircraft or “battle blows” to non-players on the ground, the regulations establish licencing and operating requirements. No-one at the University should operate a drone without understanding the potential risks and the training required to meet regulatory requirements.

First Rule: Be clear about your strategic objectives before you make any moves  – Contact the Adelaide Drone Hub for advice and information.

Second Rule: Get a pilot’s licence. You must have an RPA Pilot’s Licence to operate a drone for a University activity.

Third Rule: Find out about the University’s Operator’s Certificate (OC). The University was issued this certificate because it has established systems for approving drone operations. The approval will ensure that your activity meets the highest technical and safety standards as required by CASA . You’ll can find all you need to know from the Adelaide Drone Hub.

Forth Rule: Seek advice from the Chief Controller. The Chief Controller is the eyes and ears of CASA at the University. As a trusted drone adviser, the Chief Controller can explain drone strategy and has authority to approve your operational tactics. Nothing happens until the Chief Controller says GO!

Fifth Rule: If everyone plays by the Rules, the University will continue to have CASA’s permission to operate within the conditions approved under our OC, Loss of certification would take all University pilots out of the game and all University drones would be grounded.

Sixth Rule: If you want to engage an External Player (such as an independent aerial photographer) to conduct your drone operation, you still need to get approval from the Chief Controller. CASA expects the Chief to always be in control of the game.

Your drone game plan should start with this Checklist. For more information about rules and regulations for operating drones, read the Drones and the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 1998 Summary.

Other things to be aware of:

Standard Operating Conditions apply. Check first with the University’s Chief Controller for details, but unless you have approval from the CASA you must ensure that any operation is:

  • Not over a populous area (such as a campus or residential area)
  • At least 30m away from non-players (this might mean restricting public access)
  • In visual line of sight (you must be able to clearly see it without binoculars or telescope)
  • Below 400 feet above ground level
  • Not in restricted airspace (you’ll need to check on airports or helipads)
  • In visual meteorological conditions
  • During the day

The University has an Aviation Policy which includes drones and covers Legal Liability and loss of, or damage, to aircraft. Please note that appropriate licensing is a condition for coverage under the University’s insurance policy. The Legal & Risk Branch provides the Insurer with a list of pilots to be covered under the policy, which covers pilots who:

  • are appropriately licensed
  • have been inducted by the Chief Controller
  • are noted in the URAF Operations Manual
  • have been declared to the Insurer.

Please see the University’s Drones (Aviation Policy) Insurance Guide or contact us for more information.

Really want to get your head around the Game of Drones!
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