Cutting red tape for drone operators

Action is being taken to reduce the red tape burden on remotely piloted aircraft operators.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority and Airservices Australia are working to streamline approval processes for commercial drone operators around civil controlled aerodromes.

A new digital, automated process for some remotely piloted aircraft operations near controlled aerodromes will be trialled, reducing application processing times from weeks to seconds.

The initiative will save approved commercial drone operators time and money, and cut down on paper-based forms.

The trial to commence late April will take place at three aerodromes.

The chief pilot of remotely piloted aircraft operator certificate holders will be able to apply through a CASA-verified drone safety app for approval to fly in designated areas within three nautical miles of the aerodromes.

The approval, where safe to do so, will be given in real time as long as required conditions can be met. The digital process will be delivered through CASA’s RPAS digital platform, with Airservices playing a key role in developing the designated maps in conjunction with partner, Queensland University of Technology. Airservices has utilised its air traffic control expertise to understand the safety risks and conduct the relevant analysis required to enable these automated authorisations to take place.

CASA’s acting CEO and Director of Aviation Safety, Graeme Crawford, said the remotely piloted aircraft trial would offer tangible benefits to the drone industry.

“Moving to digital approval processes is a key initiative for CASA, streamlining interactions and making it easier for operators,” Mr Crawford said.

Airservices’ CEO, Jason Harfield, said the initiative is a great step furthering innovation in Australian skies.

“The streamlined approval process has been a great collaboration between CASA and Airservices and will see faster approvals for operators for access to airspace without compromising on the safety of all airspace users.”

The initiative was announced at the Australian Association for Unmanned Systems RPAS in Australian Skies 2021 conference.

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