Want to start flying drones to make an income?
If you are flying drones for money, or any form of economic gain, there are generally 3 different ways you can do it in Australia, these are detailed below. All 3 of them involve contact with CASA in some way.
Number 1: "sub-2kg" - a quick way to make some income from flying small drones
You will be able to fly drones restricted to 2kg in weight, as an individual (or a business)
● No ‘licence’ or ‘certificate’ required
● Simply notify CASA
at least five days before your first commercial flight (you will need to enter an ARN
● You are required to operate by the standard operating conditions (visit this CASA web page
for an up to date list of these conditions).
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Number 2: "RePL" - Work full or part-time flying drones for someone else’s business
You will be able to fly a variety of drone types and weights, as an individual
● Certificate required: you need a Remote Pilot Licence “RePL” (also known as a Controllers Certificate)
● Typically you would be working as an individual for or ‘underneath’ an ReOC business (see number 3 below).
● You will need to complete a course with a training course provider
. Note that if you have already passed an aeronautical knowledge exam for a flight crew licence, you may only need to do the practical component (to get ‘type’ rated)..
RePL courses are usually delivered as ‘full’ (Basic) courses or ‘top-up’ (Type) courses:
Full (‘basic’) training
● Typically a 5 or 6-day course
● A thorough course for people with no existing experience or licence. It typically covers everything you need to get the Remote Pilot Licence including theory and practical flying.
Top-up (‘type’) training
● Typically just a 1-day course
● Normally for people who are adding aircraft ‘types’ to an existing licence or certification
● Also for people who have an existing aeroplane or helicopter licence but no drone pilot licence yet.
Number 3: "ReOC" - Start your own commercial drone operations business
You will be able to fly many kinds of drones, as a business
● Certificate required: you need an RPA Operator's Certificate “ReOC” (also known as a UOC – Unmanned Operators Certificate)
● Typically you would be working for yourself and possibly hiring pilots to work with you
Getting an ReOC is quite an involved process: Complete CASA application Forms 101-02 and 101-04, submit your RPAS operations manual and operations procedures, pay the fees, and then participate in an interview with CASA. Note that testing, formal interviews and assessment for an ReOC are carried out directly by CASA (not by a 3rd party approved training facility (as is the case with RePL courses detailed above).
To receive a CASA issued ReOC, you must provide them with a variety of documentation including things like:
a) How you plan to operate the UAV within your business model
b) How you’ll keep flight records
c) How you’ll train your staff in training and competency
d) How you’ll remain compliant with rules and regulations
e) How you’ll assess and manage risk
CASA issue certificates in the following weight categories:
1) very small (<2 kg)
2) small (2-25kg) (where required with 7kg restriction)
3) medium (25-150kg)
4) large (>150kg).
We are here to help you throughout the process and to assist with any questions you may have. Accordingly, we strongly recommend you also familiarise yourself with the relevant and up to date information on the CASA website: https://www.casa.gov.au/