The proposed changes to the CASR won't impact the hobbyist.
The 2kg weight limit only applies to commercial operation. It doesn't affect recreational flying at all.
Once the proposed rules are in place, anybody will be able to operate a UAV <2kg for hire or reward, without going through the OC process, provided they stick to the existing rules (line-of-sight, >30m from property/persons, not over populated areas, >3NM from airports, daylight hours, etc).
Actually the "Populous Area" ruling is the problem. With a quad copter , single gps, single remote control,inability to fly if 1 motor fails it is look upon by CASA as having NO fail safes and therefore WILL crash. So as altitude increases the 30m safety zone radius increases and totally rules out flying over roads or houses or anywhere that people or property are able to come within the zone.
So its very remote area only or an octacopter that has all the failsafes and must because of its size be licensed . Bummer!
Have a read of this as i received from the RPAS training people.
I was contemplating getting my license but it seems that every job i would ever want to do would be illegal if i was only flying an inspire.
From our Chief Remote Pilot: Meaning of a Populous Area
Matt: "A topic that a lot of Remote Pilots misunderstand when it comes to multi-rotors is the definition of a populous area.
A populous area is defined in the regulations under CASR 101.025 yet to many people this meaning is unclear. With a multi-rotor aircraft such as a quadcopter where there is no redundancy, when completing the risk assessment for a flight you must assume the likelihood of the aircraft failing is guaranteed. This is because if any one motor fails the entire aircraft will crash! Now with this in mind, when the aircraft does fail, what will be the consequences? If the aircraft failing would cause risk to the life, safety or property of anyone outside the operation then the flight would be over a populous area. This means flying over roads, houses and other people is all illegal under the populous area rule.
One final point to remember with a multi-rotor is when the aircraft is higher, the area it could crash into becomes larger, this means when flying the aircraft high, the ‘populous area’ below the aircraft may be larger than the 30m distance you must keep from people.
As the rule says, it is all based on risk.
We need to evaluate the risk before we fly in order to determine if the area we are flying in is “populated”. This varies greatly depending on the type of RPA you are using.
Imagine a scenario where you are flying a lightweight fixed wing RPA over a small country town, you may possibly be doing a survey or something similar. If your aircraft suddenly loses power, it will continue to glide at a ratio of around 15 to 1 and come to earth well away from the town. So in terms of our risk assessment, provided your altitude is sufficient, the risk of actually crashing in the town is minimal.
However, with the same scenario, using a Quad-rotor like the DJI Inspire, any sort of power failure would cause it to drop like a stone scattering wreckage and litigation all over the place.
So, in general, the higher you are with a fixed wing, the lower the risk to the area beneath it. The higher you fly with a multi-rotor, the greater the risk to the area beneath it.
So what do I have to take into consideration when evaluating the risk to the general population?
Restricting ourselves to Multi-Rotors, there are a number of things we need to consider.
First is the number of rotors. If we are flying a Quad-Rotor (4 propellers), then we have to assume that if any component anywhere in the RPA fails, it will crash. It cannot fly on 3 propellers, so if a motor, propeller, esc or any other component fails, it will crash.
Next is the controller. Controllers fail, there are a number of reasons:
- Mid-air reset
- Signal Loss
- Electronic Component Failure
- Physical Failure – The IMU chips for some popular controllers have been known to come loose inside the controller unit and cause erratic flight and crashes.
- Vibration Saturation – Excessive vibration in the airframe can saturate the IMU unit’s inertial sensors and cause the controller to lock up. This usually results in the aircraft flipping and crashing if you don’t notice the indicator LED in time.
GPS units can fail, move or become completely dislodged during flight which can also cause very erratic behaviour – especially if Return to Home is triggered.
In short, the regulation REQUIRES us to assume that a standard quad rotor WILL crash during or flight – a 1 to 1 risk ratio – because we have not taken any measures to mitigate the risk.
So if you are flying a Phantom in the front yard of a house on a normal suburban block, then you are in a populated area. You cannot say with any measurable degree of certainty that the RPA will not suddenly malfunction and crash on the road or footpath or anywhere else close by, as you have not done anything to mitigate the risk.
So how can we mitigate the risks involved?
Firstly, we can use an Octo-Copter (8 propellers), as these can continue to fly in a stable and controllable way if one rotor fails. So this gives us our first degree of risk mitigation.
Next, we can install a dual controller system (there are several good systems on the market, but they are not cheap). Installing a dual controller will normally mean that we will also have dual GPS, introducing another 2 degrees of risk mitigation.
Finally, we can install a parachute. This is usually activated by an excessive rate of decent or radical roll / pitch / yaw movements. This gives us another degree of risk mitigation.
So with an octo-copter with dual controllers, dual GPS and a parachute, we can be confident to say that it is extremely unlikely to crash and that the risk of damage or injury is minimal.
THIS DOES NOT NEGATE IN ANY WAY THE 30 METRE RULE! You must still be at least 30 metres – HORIZONTALLY MEASURED
– from any person that is not directly involved with the flight.
There are other ways you can mitigate the risks. For instance, you can tether your drone (literally tie a strong tether to it and secure the other end to the ground). This sounds like a good idea, but you need to bear in mind that the tether will need to prevent the RPA from leaving your controlled area. So if you are in the front yard, the rope must be short enough so that the drone will not reach the footpath. This in turn will limit your altitude to the length of the tether.
Don’t forget that every infringement could cost you $850 and 3 points of your RPC (you only have 12), as well as a separate $850 fine for the UOC holder and 3 points of your UOC.
CASA will have no hesitation in tearing up your RPC and your UOC once you get to 12 points!
You need to understand that CASR 101.025 can be applied retrospectively. So if you have an incident and some injury or damaged occurred and you did not take measures to mitigate the risk, then you were most likely in a “populated” area.
In the end it’s not about the money or the points, it’s about safety.