4 Steps required by CASA to be able to operate a spray
drone on your own land in Australia
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.
2 ways you can do it:
1. 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!
2. Book a 25kg REPL upgrade training course
Find a drone training company that is approved by CASA to issue 25kg upgrades specifically for spray drones. As at Sep 2021 these 2 companies may be approved - Droneit and Aviassist.
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.
For example in NSW it is the NSW Environment Protection Authority - you’ll need to apply for a RPA applicator pilot licence, which involves doing 2 training units:
AHCCHM307 prepare and apply chemicals to control pest, weeds and diseases. (previously called AHCCHM303).
And AHCCHM304 Transport and store chemicals.
Note if you spray normally from tractors etc you likely have already have done these tickets (AHCCHM307 or AHCCHM303 and AHCCHM304). They will be e.g. on your Chemcert card. Just make sure it less than 5 years since it was updated.
You’ll also need a RPA applicator business licence, or be employed by a person holding one . Again, if you have been spraying for a long time from tractors etc you will probably just need to fill out the form for this (not actually have to do a training course).
Note that a pilot is not allowed to discharge pesticide from an aircraft within 150 metres of a dwelling, school, factory or any other public place without the prior written permission of the occupier of the premises.
Roads, travelling stock reserves and State Rail land are excluded from the definition of public places.
The owner of the land on which the pesticide will aerially be applied must get the written permission of the occupier of the dwelling, school, factory or other public place that is within 150 metres of the application area.
List of regional EPA office locations around NSW
02 9995 5959 – ask for the RPA (drone) licencing team. [email protected]