The below info relates to spray drones that are more than 25kg when filled with liquid (e.g. DJI T30), and used on your own property (different rules apply if you are spraying other people’s properties as a commercial business).
No licence is needed for lighter-weight spray drones
If your spray drone is rated to under 25kg such as the DJI T10 being 24.8 kg, and you are only using it on your own property, you can skip steps 3 and 4 below - you do not need a Remote Pilot Licence (RePL) or Flight test.
1. Get an ARN
Get an Aviation Reference Number (ARN) from CASA It’s like a passport number for pilots and drone pilots. Start the process on this CASA webpage
No fee and easy process. Note if you are a manned aircraft pilot (e.g. have a helicopter or crop duster on your property) you will already have an ARN.
2. Register your spray drone with Casa
After getting your ARN (step 1), here is the myCASA page to register your drone.
$40.0 and valid for 12 months. 1 min video showing how to do it.
3. Get a regular 0-7kg RePL (this is the basic drone licence).
If you fly a 25-125 kg drone over your own land for business or as part of your job, this is called (by CASA) the ‘landowner’ or ‘private landholder excluded’ category. Simply get a regular 0-7kg REPL- Remote Pilot Licence. You can just fly a small drone such as a DJI Mavic or Mini 2 for this licence course.
Its normally 5 days – 3 theory and 2 practical (flying). Some training companies offer the 3 theory days as online work from home. Approx. $1,300.0 - 2,000.0
Fill out this form to get upcoming course dates and prices in your state.
Note that you can actually use your spray drone to make up the minimum flying hours required for the REPL. If you do not have your chemicals approvals in place yet you can simply spray water to practice.
Depending on where your property is, you may need to include the optional AROC (Aeronautical Radio Operator Certificate ) component when you choose a course. An AROC is a short course that shows you how to communicate using a VHF radio with others who are using the air space such as control tower staff. The most popular VHF radio we sell is the Icom A16-E.
NB if you already have a Flight Radio Operator Licence you can skip the AROC.
4. Get a 25kg license upgrade
This license 'upgrade' brings your REPL rating up to the 25-125 kg drone category. The T30 for example weighs 76.5 kg when fully loaded.
Request a CASA inspector to observe you flying (a 'flight test')
This involves a CASA inspector observing you flying your spray drone and checking that you are able to fly it safely. CASA charges $160.0/hr and would normally be on your property (or another property that you may prefer) for about 1.5 hrs + travel time. Regarding travel time, CASA will not disadvantage clients for CASA not having staff in a particular region. They only charge travel time from either the nearest CASA office or the nearest regional office.
When CASA get back to you to confirm your flight test was successful, you are all set to go!
Note, you should also consider what chemicals licences you may need. These licences are nothing to do with CASA and requirements vary for each state. Please check out this article for full details.