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Drones Ain’t Drones Any More Down Under – They’re RPAs

Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority has published new rules for drone operation in Australia, bringing them more into line with international regulations.

For a start drones are no longer to be called “drones” in CASA’s lexicon. Nor are they to any longer be referred to as “unmanned aerial vehicles” (UAVs).

Henceforth they’ll be known as “remotely piloted aircraft” (RPAs), at least at CASA – elsewhere, including media, the term shorter term “drone “is likely to stick.

CASA’s change of terminology is intended to match a growing official message, and a relaxation of some rules widely seen as anti-drone to get more in line with international practice.

Under the new rules, private landowners will be able to operate drones of up to 25kg weight for serious purposes without having to hold an unmanned aircraft operator’s certificate. If a drone weighs 25-150kg the operator will need to obtain a “remote pilot” licence.

Commercial operators will not have to apply for approval to fly drones – er, RPAs – weighing less than 2kg.

“Remotely piloted aircraft systems are here now and we all know technology is developing at a rapid rate, which means the future of this sector of aviation is both exciting and challenging,” CASA CEO Mark Skidmore wrote in a memo last week.

“The challenge will be to balance the requirement for safe operations without inhibiting the growth and potential of the unmanned sector.”

Nothing was said about the currently banned plans of some marketing companies, such as Amazon, Google and perhaps Kogan, to deliver some future purchases to homes and offices by RPAs.

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