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Flying recreational drones is permitted

As small drones become more affordable, hobbyists increasingly use them for aerial photography or simply for the fun of flying. Yet crashing drones can cause personal injuries or property damage.

Drones can also be used inappropriately. Spying on a neighbor by looking through windows with a drone’s camera is likely to result in an angry response, and possibly an arrest. Flying a drone near a public event may also raise concerns of terrorism.

If you want to fly a drone, use common sense. You also need to obey the rules.

Drone Regulations

It is legal to fly hobbyist drones in Australia, but flyers must comply with the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 1998 (CTH). One set of regulations applies to commercial use of drones. If you plan to use drones in a delivery service, for example, you will need to have a certified drone pilot operate the drone.

The regulations governing recreational use of drones are less strict, but drone operators must be aware of the rules and comply with them to avoid stiff fines. The most important rules are these:

  • You must be able to see the drone at all times as you fly it. You violate the rules if you allow the drone to fly outside of your line of sight.
  • You can only operate the drone during daylight hours in clear weather that permits you to see the drone. You cannot fly after dark or in foggy conditions.
  • You may not fly the drone within 30 metres of vehicles, buildings, or people.
  • You may not fly the drone over populous areas, including parks, arenas, and beaches.
  • In cities and other places designated as “controlled airspace,” you cannot fly higher than 120 metres.
  • You cannot create a hazard to other aircraft (such as flying near or into the path of an aircraft) and you must not fly within 5.5 kilometres of airfields and aerodromes.
  • Some drones are too large to qualify as recreational, so check the regulations if you are thinking about buying a larger drone.

Careless Operation

In addition to those specific rules, drone operators have a general duty to exercise care while flying. You should always check your batteries to make sure your drone does not lose power and crash into someone’s house, car, or head. If you do injure a person or property with your drone, you will probably be responsible for paying compensation to the victim.

“Stunt” flying should never be attempted in areas where the drone may crash into persons or occupied property if the stunt does not work. Using a drone to harass someone by “dive bombing” or otherwise placing someone in fear may lead to assault charges in addition to fines for violating drone operation rules.

Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.

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