THE Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has announced drones under 2kilograms are to become deregulated for commercial use in the second half of 2015.
This will allow business to utilise the benefits of this technology without being certified.
But public liability insurance is not, and may not, become available to uncertified operators. It will be interesting to see what the insurance agencies deliver in the future to those uncertified because it does leave the community exposed to the risks associated with small drones.
We may find the insurance industry is the driver of the market rather than the Civil Aviation Safety Authority’s regulation changes.
Through awareness of the aviation environment, automation systems and a focus on safety, sub-2kg aircraft can be operated safely, delivering efficiencies to many business sectors.
Utilisation of drones is not only about profits and efficiency but removing people from hazardous environments, allowing them to return home safely to their family.
Consider what is the greater risk: someone climbing onto a potentially unsafe elevated structure, or someone using a drone to inspect the structure first without risking harm to themselves.
Deregulation of the lower weight category for drones should see a mass adoption of the technology for many applications.
There are critics, and it seems that inadvertent contact between manned and unmanned aircraft will inevitably occur at some time, the repercussions of which are yet to be seen. This contact is unlikely to be from a commercial operator but from someone who is unaware of the regulations in the first place. Drones are a tool for an expert in their field. The mass take-up of drones is good for Australian business, promoting development, and the deregulation allows entry into unmanned systems without the restrictive costs currently involved. Small drones have their limitations and, as with manned aircraft, some manufacturers will pitch to the under 2kg market while others will remain in the over 2kg market.
There are also limitations on where uncertified operators can fly and, without a Civil Aviation Safety Authority-approved Operator’s Certificate, this may not change.
A common under-2kg multirotor system costs between $1000 and $2000 and is capable of carrying a small camera similar to a GoPro. Often people dip their toe into the market at this level, but discover their limitations and look to upgrade.
Professional applications are unlikely to accept a decrease in performance, quality, endurance or operating area just to remain under 2kg. For others this level of sophistication will be enough and add benefit to their activities.
CASA had previously indicated a weight for regulation as high as 20kg, but don’t hold your breath for this to occur just yet. With any rapidly developing technologies, legislation is slow to catch up and Australia’s legislation is stuck in 2002, when current technologies were beyond the reach of the masses. And Australian legislation is still considered advanced.
Aviassist has designed a workshop promoting safe under-2kg drone fixed wing and multirotor operations, transferring professional knowledge and creating a pathway for seamless transition to over 2kg as users expand their applications.
Ross Anderson is the founder of aviassist南京夜网419论坛, which provides aviation training and support