You find them on the top of a lot of wish lists, they put a whole new perspective on footage and you probably couldn’t achieve the ‘best’ selfie without one. I’m talking about Done. Starting from as little as $60.95, it’s easy to buy one and start flying, right? Wrong. Although Drones are becoming increasingly popular as they shift towards the more affordable side of the economic scale, Drone safety rules have been in place since 2002. Whether you’re flying for personal or commercial reasons, knowing this handful of rules can help save your dough. I’m not saying you have to be CASA (Civil Aviation Safety Authority), certified pilot to operate a small Drone for personal use but you need to adhere to the strict rules and guidelines put in place for the safety and privacy of those on the ground and in the air.
You can fly throughout the day and are required to maintain a visual on your aircraft at all times. Essentially, if you can’t see your drone with your own eyes and are guiding it from what you see on a device, you need to bring it back into your line of sight. Flying blind (only seeing from the device itself) will only show you what’s directly in front of your drone, not beside or behind, meaning there is a possibility of flying into another aircraft, building or tree.
Some drones on the market can reach heights further than the human eye can see (which in reality, isn’t quite as high as you might think) but as a recreational operator, the law limits you to 120 metres (400 feet) above the ground. That doesn’t mean you can bend the law by standing on top of a mountain and fly 120m high from that point. That means, your Drone is only allowed to be 120m from the ground. Be mindful of your height when operating. Some models will display your current height on your H.U.D (heads up display).
3. KEEP YOUR DISTANCE
If you’re flying in a large park with only a few occupants, provided you maintain 30 metres from civilians, you are allowed to fly your Drone. That means, there is a strict 30 metres radius from literally anyone. Imagine someone is on the other side of the park, from that person to any point of the Drone there needs to be at least 30 metres distance.
4. KNOW WHERE YOU CAN FLY
You might have the best intentions in mind, such as spotting a house surrounded in fire and trying to see if there is anyone else left in the building. As helpful as you think you are being, unless you have prior approval you must steer clear of ALL emergency operations, such as fires, crimes, pursuits, and even search and rescue missions. Many firefighters have been hindered by Drone operators trying to find survivors during a massive bushfire. Don’t add stress to an already stressful job, let the professionals handle it.
5. ONE DRONE AT A TIME
It’s understandable that we all like a challenge but when that specific challenge can put people or property at risk, it’s never fun. As per CASA law, you are legally allowed to fly one drone at a time. This makes sense due to the need to maintain a clear line of sight on your drone at all times. It would be especially hard to follow this rule if you were attempting to keep your eye on two or three Drones at the same time.
6. YOU DO NOT HAVE RIGHT OF WAY, NO MATTER HOW GOOD THE SHOT
In theory, flying over a football game or a surfing competition would make amazing footage for your Instagram but it’s not helpful for yourself or those around you. When your Drone is in the air, similar to a car, there is a chance it could break down, the difference is that unlike a car which can be pulled over on the side of the ride, a Drone has nowhere to go but down. Because of this risk, you aren’t permitted to fly over parks, beaches, sporting events, or anywhere occupied by civilians.
Bonus tip: Always check the battery level of your Drone prior to flight. Never take to the sky with a low battery or a low battery warning.
7. AVOID AERODROMES
If you drone weights more than 100 grams (less than a typical iPhone) you must maintain a consistent distance of 5.5km from controlled aerodromes (airports). When operating near an uncontrolled aerodrome, you are allowed to operate your Drone, however, if you do notice an incoming aircraft you must evacuate the area and land as soon as possible. If you are unsure of any possible aerodromes in an area, the app ‘Can I Fly There’ could be your saving grace. This specific app will include the information you require, on an easy to read interface.
8. RESPECT PRIVACY LAWS
State laws imply that you must not take a photo of someone without their consent. That rule is no different in regards to drones. By law, you are required to respect an individuals privacy, which includes taking photos or recording footage without their consent. If you take anything away from this article, let it be this rule.
9. YOU MUST NOT FLY YOUR AIRCRAFT IN A WAY THAT CREATES A HAZARD TO ANOTHER AIRCRAFT, PERSON OR PROPERTY.
Flying a Drone can be one of the most enjoyable experiences, and you should definitely have fun with them but you must do so in a safe manner. A Drone can cause serious harm if not piloted in a safe and correct manner, so please be careful and considerate when operating. Know the rules associated with Drone operation, have fun, and fly safely.