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Drone Operation and Management

Drones go by many names; Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPAs). But no matter what you call them, their operation in Australia is governed by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA). It is imperative that all operations of drones at the University of Tasmania are compliant with these regulations.

The operation of drones in Australian airspace is regulated by the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 1998.

There are two categories of use for drones, recreational and commercial. ALL operations at the University of Tasmania are in the commercial category, even if it is “just a few pictures for my research”. Anything that is not just for the fun of it, is considered commercial, even if you are not earning any money for it. The University of Tasmania has a Remote Operators Certificate (ReOC) and we can facilitate the legal use of drones for research (commercial) purposes.

Detail of UTas Drone operations can be found in the Drone Operations and Management guide (PDF 144.2 KB)

Before operating any drones for University of Tasmania purposes, you must first contact the Chief Controller for drone operations,

Drones fall into 4 classes based on their take-off weight:

  • Sub 2 kg
  • 2 – 7 kg
  • 7- 25 kg
  • >25 kg

All classes above 2 kg require a Remote Pilots License (RePL); more on licenses later.

Operation of drones < 2 kg fall into the excluded category and can be operated without a license provided a set of strict conditions are adhered to (see below). Even though < 2 kg does not require a license, operations in this class still need to be discussed with the Chief Controller at UTas to ensure they are adhering to CASA rules and fall within the Universities safety guidelines.

If you need to operate a larger drone we have the internal capacity to train UTas Staff and Students to obtain a RePL. Or one of the existing RePL qualified Staff/Student may be able to help you out with your requirements, particularly if it is a one off type of arrangement.

Note activities such as;

  • flying at night
  • flying in a National Park, Tasmanian World Heritage Wilderness Area or any type of reserve controlled by Parks and Wildlife

also require a RePL and special authorisation.

You must:

  • only fly one drone at a time
  • always fly your drone within visual line-of-sight — this means:
    • flying only during the day
    • avoid flying in cloud, fog or heavy rain
    • you can see your drone with your own eyes at all times — not by using binoculars or watching a video screen
    • not flying behind trees, buildings or anything else that stops you seeing your drone at all times.

You must not fly your drone:

  • higher than 120 m (400 ft) above ground level
  • closer than 30 m to people — other than those helping to fly or navigate your drone
  • over or above people at any time or height
  • in a way that creates a hazard to another person, aircraft or property
  • near emergency situations
  • in prohibited or restricted airspace (use a CASA-verified drone safety app to help you)
  • closer than 5.5 km to a controlled aerodrome or airfield (usually those with a control tower), if your drone weighs more than 250 g.

You may operate your drone within 5.5 km of a non-controlled aerodrome or helicopter landing site only if:

  • there are no manned aircraft (one or more people inside) flying to or from the aerodrome
  • you land as soon as safely possible if you see any manned aircraft flying to or from the aerodrome
  • you stay outside the airfield boundary

A Risk Assessment is a simple tool to look at an activity such as a task, project or event to identify health and safety risks that are likely to pose a threat t a person's safety or impact on operations of the University and to establish appropriate risk controls to minimise harm.

The University Project/Task Risk Assessment Procedure (PDF 387.6 KB) provides guidance on the minimum requirements for University of Tasmania staff and students to follow when planning an activity (both on and off campus) so that work health safety risks are managed.