Australia’s recreational drone flying rules are in place to protect users of airspace as well as people and property on the ground. Every person looking to fly a drone for fun in Australia should know these rules.
While safety and fun are two words that don’t usually appear together, we believe that it’s possible to fly drones safely in this country while still having some fun!
1. You must not operate your drone in a way that creates a hazard to another aircraft person or property
We think this is a good rule to include first up, as it sets the scene for the other rules listed below. Basically, if something feels unsafe then there is a good chance that you’ve created or are about to create a hazard or breach a rule.
2. You must not fly higher than 120 metres above the ground
This rule is not complicated but is one of the most important. Elevating your drone above the 120 metre (400 ft) level can seriously endanger other aircraft including helicopters and planes.
3. You must not fly over or above people
Example locations could include footpaths, busy roads, festivals, beaches, parks, events, or sport ovals where a game is underway.
4. You must keep your drone at least 30 metres away from other people
Sometimes this rule creates confusion. Here is a simple graphic to clarify how it works:
5. You must only fly during the day and fly within visual line-of-sight
This means that you need to be able to see the drone with your own eyes at all times. For example, you can’t use FPV goggles to fly your drone (unless an exemption applies).
6. You must not fly your drone over or near an area affecting public safety or where emergency operations are underway (unless approval is obtained)
Examples could include car crashes, police operations, firefighting operations or search and rescue operations.
7. If your drone weighs more than 100g, you must keep at least 5.5km away from controlled aerodromes
In addition to this rule, there are also rules about flying within 5.5km of controlled aerodromes. This will be the subject of another post shortly.
8. You can only fly 1 drone at a time
This rule is straightforward enough. The rationale is that someone who is flying more than one drone will not have as much situational awareness and be more likely to be (and create) a hazard. In short, no “drone swarming”!
9. Don’t record or photograph people without getting their consent
It’s important to respect people’s privacy – not doing so could be a breach of other laws.
10. Other laws
There are a patchwork of other laws that could apply to recreational drone operators, including laws about flying in National Parks and flying a drone within 300 metres of marine mammals. It is important that you conduct your own investigations about other laws such as these before flying.
So tell me, where can I fly?
Now that you’ve got a high-level steer on the “dont’s”, you probably want to get an idea about where you can actually fly. For this, we’d encourage you to download the very user-friendly – and Australian Government approved – Can I fly there? app.
Fly safely and have fun!
* For more general information about safety and regulations, check out our dedicated page here.