Drone Operations Beyond Visual Line of Sight

As part of the amendments to CASR Part 101 that came into effect on 29 September 2016, CASA created an excluded category of remotely piloted aircraft (RPA), allowing private landowners to carry out some commercial-like operations on their own land with:

  • a small RPA (2-25 kg) without needing an RPA operator's certificate (ReOC) or a remote pilot licence (RePL)
  • a medium RPA (25-150 kg) without needing an ReOC (the operator still requires an RePL).

Excluded operations must be conducted under standard RPA operating conditions. One of these conditions is a requirement for the RPA to be operated within the visual line of sight of the person operating the RPA.

For the purposes of this requirement, visual line of sight is defined as an operation in which the Remote Pilot can maintain direct visual contact with the aircraft, aided only by spectacles or contact lenses (not binoculars or telescopes etc) to manage its flight and meet separation and collision avoidance responsibilities.

An RPA being operated by a private landowner beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) would not qualify as an excluded operation and must fully comply with the applicable provisions of CASR Part 101 (including the requirement to have an RePL and ReOC as applicable).

CASR Part 101.029 allows RPA operators to apply to CASA for an approval.

As there are few civilian RPA operations being conducted BVLOS in Australia, there is little organisational experience and no formal guidance regarding the form and content of an application under CASR 101.029 to conduct these operations.

Generally the application to conduct BVLOS operations should be supported by a safety case which describes in detail the way in which the operator intends to establish and maintain an acceptable level of aviation safety while conducting the proposed operation. Ideally, the safety case would include a detailed risk assessment, prepared in accordance with ISO AS/NZS 31000:2009 Risk management - principles and guidelines.

Aviation Projects has a long and successful history of preparing safety cases that have resulted in the authorisation of operations in non-standard situations, such as BVLOS RPA operations.

For more information about applying to conduct RPA operations BVLOS, contact us.

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