Drone Training FAQs

Do drone regulations allow flights in national parks?

Recreational or Commercial Drones are classified as aircraft. The safe operation of aircraft comes under federal Civil Aviation Safety Authority laws. However the ability to take off and land an aircraft comes from the landholder. In the case of national parks, which are managed by the states, permission to take off and land in the parks is usually required. The process to obtain permission varies slightly with each state.

Victoria

New South Wales

Queensland

Tasmania

Western Australia

South Australia

Northern Territory

What is required to gain a Remote Operator’s Certificate (ReOC)?

To obtain a Remote Operator’s Certificate (ReOC) you need to prepare an Operations Manual and Operational Library which describe how you plan to operate safely. The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) have developed templates which has done most of the hard work for you, which makes the process quicker and easier. By the time you have completed your Remote Pilot Licence you should have sufficient knowledge to complete the remainder of the manuals. If you still have trouble we can help you out for a small fee.

Aviassist has a close working relationship with CASA which means there is no requirement for an additional flight test for our RPAS students. CASA will issue you an example job and ask for a job safety and risk assessment. Once this is complete a phone interview takes place to discuss the safety assessment and explain your responsibilities. The initial fee from CASA will be approximately $1280. For those that have not conducted our Level 1 RPAS course the fee can be up to $5000 due to the flight test requirement.

After 12 months there is a renewal process with a small fee and if operations have been conducted in accordance with your manual your Remote Operator’s Certificate (ReOC) will be reissued for another 3 years.

What is required to obtain a Remote Pilot Licence (RePL)?

To obtain a Remote Pilot Licence for operations within visual line of sight you will need to conduct a  Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) training course. Aviassist conducts five day RPAS training courses nationwide for both Multirotor and Fixed Wing aircraft.  Multirotor training is conducted using the DJI Phantom 4 Quadcopter and DJI Matrice 600 Pro Hexacopter. Fixed wing training is conducted using the Sensefly Ebee.

For those holding existing flight crew (PPL or higher) or those looking to upgrade their Remote Pilot licence to a new aircraft type only type training is required.

What commercial drone should we buy? Transportability

Transportability considerations play a major role when purchasing a remote aircraft particularly if you plan to travel large distances with your equipment.

Dangerous Goods – Battery sizes greater than 160Wh are not allowed to travel via air. This means you will need to ship your batteries by road prior to the job. Are your batteries safe to travel by air?

Airline weight Considerations – Airlines will rarely take an item more than 32kg due to workplace safety considerations. If you aircraft and box weigh greater than 32kg you may have to freight your equipment prior to your flight.

Physical size – When considering the physical size of your planned purchase also remember you are likely to need a larger carry case for the equipment. Not taking this into consideration may find yourself uttering “we are going to need a bigger car”

Are there many drone pilot jobs?

The drone itself is simply a tool to gather information. There is little value in solely flying the drone around and  if that is all you are interested in, drone pilot jobs are limited particularly in the small end of the market.

Remotely Piloted Aircraft are a powerful tool in data and imagery acquisition, if your interest extends past the flying, job positions utilising drones are expanding rapidly. Areas such as surveying, asset inspection, photography, cinematography and agriculture use drones daily to increase safety and efficiency. These positions normally demand some sort of additional knowledge to ensure the information is captured in the correct method and converted into a deliverable for the client.

This process needs to be conducted safely and efficiently to benefit from the technology. A good drone pilot is not someone who can fly fast and narrowly miss objects, a good drone pilot is someone who has a good safety culture and anticipates risk well before the job has even commenced. Good drone training will instil this culture and help you become successful in your future pursuits of professional drone flying.

Is there a chance of hitting another aircraft…How low do piloted aircraft fly?

There are standard lowest heights for piloted aircraft of 500ft above unpopulous areas and 1000ft above populous areas although expect piloted aircraft at any height. As with anything in aviation there are approvals and exemptions to allow us to carry out almost whatever task, no matter how low it is, provided it is completed safely.

There is a mistaken understanding that drones are operated below 400ft  and therefore won’t interact with piloted aircraft. There are some common activities and times where it is more likely a remotely piloted aircraft will encounter a piloted aircraft.

  • Where there is low cloud
  • Along the coastline
  • Near airports
  • Near gas pipelines or power lines
  • In agricultural areas
  • Near Military airspace
  • In the vicinity of  busy training airports

Most of Australian airspace works on a see and avoid principle. That is if you see other traffic, you avoid it.  Airband radio is used to help situational awareness by airspace users describing their location in order to keep separation. Drones are next to impossible to identify from a moving piloted aircraft. Piloted and remotely piloted aircraft need to integrate to keep the Australian airspace system safe.

Can i fly my remote aircraft at night?

In Australia as part of the standard operating area for drones the answer is no.

Licensed remote pilots operating under a Remote Operator’s Certificate (ReOC) can fly at night provided there is an approved procedure in the operations manual. Procedures hold consideration to aircraft lighting, aircraft positioning, suitable take-off and landing areas and any other safety considerations.

Aviation daylight hours are from beginning of day to end of day, not sunrise and sunset. This allows flight as standard in civil twilight. These times can be found using any good aviation application such as Avplan EFB.

Excluded remote aircraft must be operated between sunrise and sunset only.

What commercial drone should we buy? Fixed wing or Multi Rotor

As with everything it comes down to the job. Both aircraft systems have their advantages and disadvantages. A fixed wing system is far more efficient at covering a broad area for applications such as agriculture and surveying. A multi rotor has the advantage of vertical take off and landing and has the ability to hover in one location.

The benefit of remote aircraft is their ability to capture high resolution data and imagery remotely. The perfect system is one that will capture the required information. The questions that should be asked in a system is.. What is the problem we are trying to solve? What is the correct sensor that will obtain the required information? What is the aircraft that can carry the required sensor? Finally which aircraft has a ground control station that makes this data capture easy to acquire and process.

Do I need an Aeronautical Radio Operator’s Certificate to operate my remotely piloted aircraft?

To utilise your RPA professionally you should obtain an Aeronautical Radio Operator’s Certificate (AROC). This qualification allows you to operate safely near airports as well as in controlled and restricted airspace.

The Australian airspace system operates on a see and avoid principle. That is, we use the airband radio to ascertain where other airspace users are and arrange mutual seperation. Airband radio is an essential tool in maintaining situational awareness of other airspace users, particularly when RPA’s are hard to see from moving aircraft and can’t easily be indentified by radar systems.

Aviassist as a professional RPAS trainer includes an Aeronautical Radio Operator’s Certificate in all RPAS training courses.

Can I operate under another Company’s Remote Operator’s Certificate (ReOC)?

Yes, this is completely legal providing the company holding the Remote Operator’s Certificate can manage the activity and all conditions of the Operations Manual are followed.

Operating under another company’s “Operator’s certificate” is common practise in Australian aviation. Next time you are flying “QANTAS” to New Zealand check at the door to see who you are really flying with.

What is the minimum age to obtain a Remote Pilot Licence (RePL)?

The minimum age to apply for an Aeronautical Radio Operators Certificate is 17 years old, this certification is required in many flight areas

What aircraft can I fly with my Remote Pilot Licence?

Aircraft are divided into three categories and are given a weight class. Aviassist can provide RPAS training on fixed wing <7kg and multirotor <25kg type aircraft.

Fixed Wing Multirotor Helicopter Powered Lift
<7kg <7kg <7kg <7kg
<25kg <25kg <25kg <25kg
Per aircraft type Per aircraft type per aircraft type Per aircraft type

Do I need to complete any exams as part of the RPAS training?

Once you are comfortable and confident with the content, you will sit an in-house RPAS exam, an in-house radio exam and also complete a spoken English test. Your flying competency will be assessed as you go and your RPAS instructor is with you for all aspects of training, so you’ll feel confident through the whole way through the process

Does our company require insurance to operate?

Whilst it is not mandated, it is highly recommended to obtain public liability insurance for any flying activity. It is important to obtain the right insurance as some standard policies will not cover you whilst flying. We would be pleased to put you on to our industry partners specialising in aviation

We need help developing the Operations Manual can Aviassist help?

Absolutely! The operations manual is best tailored to your individual business needs so we encourage you to create it yourself providing guidance and support through the whole process. If you need additional assistance writing the manual we can help you with this.

Do I need to purchase my own aircraft prior to RPAS training?

Aviassist will provide you with a remote aircraft for use during training. We prefer to use our aircraft so you can remain focused on the training rather than worrying about your aircraft. This allows us to show you every capability and failsafe of the system.

Can I be a remote pilot at the same time as being the Chief Remote Pilot and Maintenance controller?

Yes you can be all three positions at the same time (eg. Sole Trader)

What is the role of the Maintenance Controller?

The maintenance controller is responsible for approving all maintenance conducted under the Remote Operator’s Certificate. A Remote Operator’s Certificate requires a maintenance controller to operate. The maintenance controller can be any Remote Pilot.

What the role of the Chief Remote Pilot?

The Chief Remote Pilot is responsible for all flying conducted under a Remote Operator’s Certificate and is the liaison between the company and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority. A Remote Operator’s Certificate requires a chief controller to operate.

Do I require a Certificate III in Aviation (Remote Pilot- Visual Line of Sight)?

Certification from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority is required to operate remote aircraft in Australia. CASA certification is recognised Australia wide. Aviassist has developed and had approved a CASA certified syllabus which meets and exceeds the current Cert III syllabus.

A Certificate III in Aviation (Remote Aircraft – Visual Line of Sight) is part of the Australian Qualifications Framework. This does not automatically certify you for a Remote Pilot Licence (RePL) in Australia. There are courses available in Australia which are recognised by both the AQF and CASA which in most cases only adds unnecessary expense.

I already have a flight crew license (PPL/CPL/ATPL) do I have to go through the same training?

Great, so do we! You need to complete type training, similar to a type rating in manned aviation. Good news, due to your investment in aviation to date, casa certification is a little cheaper. Flying drones in Australia is a bit different to manned aviation and we include everything you need to know to operate legally and safely.

Can I amend my current Remote Pilot Licence to include additional aircraft types?

Absolutely! Your initial CASA certification provides the fundamental certification on which we can add aircraft types simply by completing the flying component. Once you have reached a satisfactory competency standard we can amend your Remote Pilot Licence to have the additional aircraft types added

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