The Australian Certified UAV Operators Inc (ACUO) has welcomed the final Report of the Senate Standing Committee on Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport, following its Inquiry into Regulatory requirements that impact on the safe use of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems, Unmanned Aerial Systems and associated systems.
“The report demonstrates the Committee gained a thorough understanding of Drones and their associated issues,” said Joe Urli, the President of ACUO. “The Committee was able to cut through a variety of interests to understand that this isn’t just about the many applications for drone technology, it’s just as important that we facilitate orderly growth of this industry, safely and efficiently”, said Joe Urli.
ACUO maintains that the rollout of the CASA (CALA) regulatory amendments in 2016 was not in the best interests of aviation and public safety, or the commercial drone industry in Australia more widely. ATSB incident report figures [about drones] have increased almost 120% over the previous year, with no signs of slowing down.
“CASA’s amended regulations appeared to depart from common sense approaches to safety, and that’s why ACUO sought to challenge them, in an effort that eventually culminated in the Senate Committee Report. Were it not for this intervention, the Committee would not have had opportunity to identify the deficiencies in CASA’s suite of drone regulations, nor go on to make the recommendations they did to now try and back-fill some of the gaps”, said Mr Urli.
According to ACUO, approximately one third of certified commercial drone operators have had serious negative impacts on their business as a result of CASA’s amended regulations, “and that too could have been avoided. If we are to baseline with the rest of the world then we need to have a few fundamentals in place and the Senate Committee fully agreed with ACUO on this.”
Those fundamentals include:
- A whole of Government approach to how the industry will be shaped in years to come, including on unmanned traffic management;
- Basic training for all drone operators
- Wider enforcement initiatives (beyond just CASA) including better cooperation and curated actions by police and local council officers. “We urge the Australian Government to respond promptly and decisively in demanding implementation of the recommendations of the Senate Committee”, said ACUO President, Mr Urli.
|Senate report: key recommendations
According to the Australian parliament (https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Rural_and_Regional_Affairs_and_Transport/Drones/Report/b01) the key recommendations to come out of the report are:
8.10 The committee recommends that the Civil Aviation Safety Authority draw on the growing body of international empirical research and collision testing on remotely piloted aircraft systems below 2kg to immediately reform Part 101 of the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 1998.
8.20 The committee recommends that the Australian Government introduce a mandatory registration regime for all remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) weighing more than 250 grams. As part of registration requirements, RPAS operators should be required to successfully complete a basic competence test regarding the safe use of RPAS, and demonstrate an understanding of the penalties for non-compliance with the rules.
8.26 The committee recommends that the Australian Government develop a tiered education program whereby remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS) users progressively unlock RPAS capabilities upon completion of each level of training. Three tiers are proposed as follows:
8.29 The committee recommends that the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, in cooperation with the Australian Federal Police and other relevant authorities, prohibit the use of remotely piloted aircraft systems in the airspace above significant public buildings, critical infrastructure and other vulnerable areas.
8.31 The committee recommends that the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, in cooperation with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, work with manufacturers of remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) to develop future solutions to RPAS safety, including the implementation of technical restrictions on altitude and distance for ‘off-the-shelf’ RPAS.
8.37 The committee recommends that the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, in cooperation with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, develop appropriate airworthiness standards for remotely piloted aircraft of all sizes and operations. At a minimum, fail-safe functions such as ‘return to home’ and safe landing functionality, and forced flight termination, should be mandated.
8.38 The committee recommends that the Australian Government develop import controls to enforce airworthiness standards for foreign manufactured remotely piloted aircraft systems.
8.44 The committee recommends that the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, in collaboration with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, develop a whole of government policy for remotely piloted aircraft safety in Australia, and establish appropriate coordination and implementation mechanisms with relevant departments and agencies to implement the policy.
8.45 As part of a whole of government policy approach, the committee further recommends that the Australian Government explore cost‑effective models to develop and administer new regulatory initiatives for remotely piloted aircraft systems, including a mandatory registration regime and tiered education program. The harmonisation of state and territory privacy laws should also be considered.
8.50 The committee recommends that, as part of a whole of government approach to remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) safety, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority work with Airservices Australia and other relevant agencies to implement a comprehensive research and data gathering regime. Information should be collated and centralised in a way that allows for the examination of RPAS registrations, operations, trends and incidents, to provide an evidence base on which to assess the efficacy of current regulations, and to inform the development of future policy and regulations.
8.64 The committee recommends that, following the development of a whole of government policy approach to RPAS safety, including the establishment of a national registration system, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) work with state and territory enforcement bodies to implement a nationally consistent enforcement regime for remotely piloted aircraft systems. Under this regime, enforcement bodies would be delegated powers to provide on-the-spot fines and report infringements of the regulations directly to CASA.