Drone regulations in Australia

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The prospect of capturing insights from drone photogrammetry is game-changing and more accessible than you’d guess. However, before you can capitalize on the array of data products and analysis made so easily available through automated drone flight, there's a crucial step that cannot be overlooked: understanding and complying with drone regulations.

To begin with, Who Governs Drone Operations in Australia and What Are The Rules?

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) is the government body that ensures the safety of aviation-related activities in Australia. They cover everything from licensing pilots to certifying aerodromes and have excellent content on the rules relating to flying drones. CASA also has the power to issue penalties for non-compliance so be sure to familiarize yourself with the applicable rules.

Regulations for Commercial Drone Operators

If you’re flying for work or your employer, you must have either:

  1. An Operator Accreditation to fly a drone weighing 2 kg or less. Drones up to 25kg are allowed but only if flying over your land. This is known as the Excluded Category
  2. A remote pilot license (RePL) operates for an individual or business that holds a remotely piloted aircraft operator's certificate (ReOC) to fly a drone of more than 2kg.

Learn more about which category your intended operations fall under with CASA’s “Plain English guide for Micro and Excluded RPA operations”


Paths for Drone Operations

There are 3 paths forward for your company to use Drones for reality capture. These are:

  1. Fly your drones under the Excluded Category of drone operations
  2. Fly your drones under a company Remote Operators Certificate (for more complex operations)
  3. Data on Demand - plan and order flights via DroneDeploy to be conducted by our ReOC-certified partner provider. A pilot will come to your site and conduct the flight for you, uploading your data straight to your DroneDeploy project. 

Each method of capture has its benefits and limitations. In this article, we'll guide you through the exciting journey of starting drone operations in Australia, shedding light on the regulations of concern, how quickly you can get started and when it’s worth planning for a more encompassing operation.

Option 1: Flying under the Excluded Category 

This is the fastest path to get started with drone reality capture with your pilot and equipment. Many of the drones that DroneDeploy can automate for imagery and mapping fall into the sub-2 kg category. The Operator Accreditation required for this weight category is straightforward, see CASA’s steps here. 

Many drones that fall within the sub 2 kg weight category can be readily purchased in-store and may be compatible with the DroneDeploy Flight automation app. You can find information and guidance on DroneDeploy’s Supported and Recommended Drones here. 

Once you’ve purchased your drone and signed up for DroneDeploy you can get started flying quickly with the Zero to Hero quickstart video series here: Kickstart your Reality Capture Program with DroneDeploy | Zero to Hero Part 1. 

Option 2: Flying under your company’s ReOC

This path will require your pilots to hold RePLs though will unlock more advanced flight operations including flights with larger drones and the authority to apply to CASA to fly within some restricted airspaces or even beyond visual line of sight. 

It’s worth reaching out to our Sales team at DroneDeploy if you’re considering this path so that we can provide advice and guidance with this journey. Contact us here.

Option 3: Data on Demand

Flight Services offered through DroneDeploy, also known as Data on Demand, are available to our Teams and Enterprise level user tiers. At this time, mission commitment is required to access Data on Demand. Interested in learning more? Contact our Sales Team today! 

With Data on Demand, you can leave the mission execution with our team! Simply, plan out your mission and hit submit through Data on Demand. We’ll email you a flight date and the data you request will be uploaded directly to your project.

Find out more about Data on Demand and How to Order a Mission


Which Drone Should I Buy for More Complicated Tasks?

For example, when a mission can't be automated with DroneDeploy. This will require a deeper understanding of your company's desired outcomes from the drone program. We recommend first reaching out to our Sales team for Technical Solution guidance via the Contact form

DroneDeploy can automate flights for numerous drone types though some cannot yet be automated including brands like Skydio and Wingtra or sensors like thermal and multispectral. However, you can likely generate maps and models from any drone. Check out a more detailed list of recommended drones here. 


How can I find out more information about the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations (CASR)?

  • CASA offers a user-friendly guide for micro and excluded RPAs, helping users understand and follow rules for commercial and land drone activities. Civil Aviation Safety Regular CASR ensures aviation safety in Australia, focusing on drone safety to safeguard people, property, and the environment.
  • Compliance with regulations for micro and excluded RPAs in commercial or land activities is assured by following the guide, which includes references to legislation and encourages staying updated on the CASA website.
  • For comprehensive information on flying in Australia and operating drones commercially without a RePL or ReOC. Refer to the CASR Part 101 Plain English Guide.


Understanding the regulatory framework is essential for anyone involved in the commercial drone sector in Australia. Adhering to these regulations ensures safe and responsible drone usage, fostering growth and innovation while preserving the safety and privacy of individuals. Stay informed, stay compliant, and contribute to a thriving and ethical commercial drone industry.

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