What Are The Rules About Helicopter Photography In Australia?

To get a perfect picture, there are certain shots that need to be captured only from an aircraft. A helicopter is the best and an extremely flexible aircraft to shot from. Aerial photography is used in land-use planning, topographic maps, cartography, archaeology, movie production, environmental studies, surveillance, artistic projects and commercial advertising.

Rules and regulations

Apart from this, there are certain regulations that you have to follow while going to get your perfect aerial shot in Australia. The Civil Aviation Safety Regulation 101 (CASR 101) in Australia allows for the commercial use of Radio Control Aircraft (RPA) under some rules and regulations. These rules include having an operator certificate for operating a radio controlled aircraft commercially just like it is required for manned aircraft operators. The pilots are also required to have a license from Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA). To avoid faking of approval by a number of illegal operators, CASA maintains a list of approved UAS operators.

The currently implemented regulations for RPAs were made effective from 29th September 2016.
According to the operating conditions of RPA, it must be operated:

· Within visual line of sight.
· Below AGL 400 ft.
· During the day.
· More than 30 meters away from anyone who is directly not associated (people being filmed as well).

It may NOT be operated:
· Over a populous area.
· In prohibited area.
· In a restricted area that is classified as RA3.

Following are the restrictions applicable for uncertified flying:

· Below 400 ft (120 m).
· In uncontrolled (Class G) airspace.
· More than 5.5 km from an aerodrome or helipad listed on the VTC.
· More than 30 m away from other people.
· Not in a populous area.
· Within Visual Sight Line (no FPV unless you have a spotter who can take control at any time).

Rules for Commercial Flights:

Any commercial flight requires certification of pilot flying the drone and the business which is the conducting operation. The pilot and the business must have UAV Controller’s certificate and UAV operator’s certificate respectively.

CASA also states that:

· The privacy of their people should be respected by not flying near homes and backyards.
· You should never fly a drone in an active bushfire area as there is a real risk of a mid-air collision with a fire fighting aircraft, which could cause an accident. The Fire Fighting aircraft will be grounded if a drone is conducting unauthorized flights on a fire ground, hampering work to control the fire and putting people and property in real risk.
· Drones should also be kept away from police operations, accident scenes and rescue operations.

If any of these rules are violated, CASA can take action against you and you may be fined up to $8500 per offence. If you put people at risk or seriously injure someone, the penalties are far more serious.

If you want to fly your drone for just fun, you don’t need CASA’s approval as long as you follow the simple safety rules.

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