Know your drone and the rules to fly safely

The growth in the number of remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS), or drones, in Australia is increasing rapidly which presents an emerging and insufficiently understood transport safety risk.

Know your drone and the rules to fly safely

In August, the ATSB published a revised safety analysis of remotely piloted aircraft systems detailing our current understanding of the implications to transport safety associated of RPAS activity in Australia.

The ATSB would like to remind everyone piloting a RPAS - whether privately or commercially - to make sure they fully understand the operating rules and to fly safely. It is imperative that all RPAS pilots know where they can fly and up to what altitude.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has published extensive information on the required rules for the safe operation of RPAS on its website.

Additionally, the Authority has produced an easy-to-use smartphone app illustrating where you can and cannot fly your RPAS.

To date, there have been no reported collisions between RPAS and manned aircraft in Australia. World-wide, there have been five known collisions. Three of these resulted in no damage beyond scratches. However, one collision with a sport bi-plane in the United States in 2010 resulted in a crushed wing. Fortunately, the aircraft landed safely.

Less fortunately, a Grob G 109B motor glider had a wing broken by an RPAS collision in 1997 in Germany, resulting in fatal injury to the two people on board.

The ATSB continues to work closely with CASA, Airservices, the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development in promoting the message to RPAS pilots to ‘know your drone’ and to fly safely.

Last update 02 January 2019