Is CASA supportive of the drone industry?

Is CASA supportive of the drone industry?

This is a question our students ask more frequently as the new Part101 MOS draws near.

Our answer is: Yes, most definitely, and CASA is becoming more supportive as time goes on.  Drone deliveries and manned drones on a commercial scale are around the corner for example as a result of CASA working proactively on the regulations for these, and our unmanned drones.

So why the new Part101 MOS if CASA is supportive of drones?  Well, if CASA did not proactively pull this rabbit out the hat for us, the Senate would be (and was) calling to ban all drones in Australia because of the high numbers of illegal unmanned activity, particularly around controlled airports.

The new Part101 MOS defines the new rules for all drone pilots eliminating current grey areas. In addition, the mandatory accreditation for all hobbyists and sub 2kg excluded category is a welcome relief to help these pilots fly safely and legally. No more claims of ignorance when caught.

The mandatory drone registration rules will also assist in proving ownership and airworthiness, much like a motor vehicle. No rego, no fly.

So, if you currently have a RePL, ELP, AROC and a ReOC, you just bought four Drone Bitcoins for a $1 each compared to their exponential value once the new Part101 MOS is effective, as they will grandfather through, providing your training provider meets the bill.

Of the 45 or so RePL training providers, WickedCopters have aligned their courses with the new Part101 MOS to date. We started six months ago when all RePL training organisations received the heads up from CASA. So we have not adopted the “ostrich head in sand” approach, but rather have planned for,  interacted with and adopted CASA’s recommendations / new Part 101 MOS as soon as possible, where we can.  In future all RePL courses will be created equal in syllabus, execution and cost, unlike the auction approach currently employed by some training organisations.

So moving forwards, your minimum drone licence requirements will be a RePL and ELP, but you won’t be employable by a ReOC holder wanting to use all of his ReOC permissions. You will need an AROC as well.

What if you don’t have a licence or ReOC yet?  No problem, you still have time to get licensed under the current regime as the new Part101 MOS will have a short transition period (3 months at least).  If you miss the transition period, no problem, but the licences and training, plus ReOC requirements will be more difficult and costly. So your Drone Bitcoin after the new Part101 MOS will have the same exponential value as the previously qualified drone pilots, but you will be buying the coins at market prices, for the want of an analogy.

The other benefit of the Part101 MOS is that the RePL training providers will be fewer than the current 45 or so, as standards are raised.  Just like the CASA delegates for ReOC applications have been reduced from the proposed 10 to 3 only for the whole of Australia, we expect the REPL training organisations going forward will drop dramatically in numbers.

So think carefully who you choose for your RePL before the new Part101 MOS kicks in, because if your ‘tick and flick’ training provider doesn’t make the grade going through, will your RePL grandfather through without further training?

From our side, we welcome any improvement in our drone operating (aviation) environment by CASA, and acknowledge that for a small RPAS team, they have done well and come through with new regulations that definitely will raise the bar for all us dronies.