Drones are fun, and they’re also complicated. Drones can be used for fun, for work, for research, and even by businesses. Unfortunately, some of them are a nuisance and illegal.
You can’t fly your drone within 30 meters of any public or private property, or within 50 meters of an airport. You also can’t fly your drone beyond the operator’s line of sight, or in a way that is likely to cause it to crash into another person.
That’s why it’s important to know the laws that govern drone use in Western Australia (WA). Here’s a look at what you need to know:
Drone Rules In Western Australia
- You must be at least 16 years old to fly a drone in Western Australia.
- You must not fly above 120 metres in Western Australia.
- In certain circumstances, you may fly within 5.5 kilometres of an airport, if you have permission from the air traffic controller at that airport and you are flying your drone in a safe manner.
- You must not operate a remotely piloted aircraft system over or close to people, animals, vessels or vehicles without appropriate risk mitigation measures in place (for example: mandatory altitude separation).
If you plan to use a drone in your business, it’s important to understand the regulations surrounding this activity. All commercial drone pilots must have a commercial operator’s certificate and are required to display their number on all drones used for business purposes.
Commercial operator’s certificates are valid for five years and can be issued for one or more of the following categories: Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA), Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), Small Unmanned Aircraft System (SUAS) or Small Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (SRPA).
The certificate holder may also operate any RPA, UAV/SUAS or SRPA category approved by CASA. However they cannot fly an aircraft that requires a type rating unless they hold one or more of these certificates:
Recreational Pilot Certificate, Private Pilot Licence – Aeroplane Single Engine Class Rating, Private Pilot Licence – Helicopter Single Engine Class Rating and Commercial Pilot Licence – Aeroplane Single Engine Class Rating
Flying Near Airports, Aerodromes And Helicopters
- Flying Near Airports, Aerodromes And Helicopters
- The rules here are pretty straightforward. If you’re flying within 5.5 kilometres of a controlled aerodrome (an airport) or within 4 kilometres of an uncontrolled aerodrome (a bush airstrip), be sure to:
- avoid flying directly over it; and
- stay in line with the runway centre line or where it would be if there were one.
- You should also not fly your drone within 1.8 kilometres of a heliport—even if it’s not actually operating at the time—or 4 kilometres from any emergency incident such as a road accident or search and rescue operation where police might need to use helicopters or planes to provide assistance
Flying Near Emergency Incidents
- No drones are allowed within five kilometres of the incident, except with the permission of the incident commander.
- If you’re planning to fly near an emergency incident, check with your drone operator’s association or another source of information on local laws before taking off.
Flying Near Wildlife
Drones are not allowed to be flown within 30 metres of a person or animal, and within 60 metres of a building (unless approved by the property owner).
This means you shouldn’t fly your drone near people or animals, including marine life. You can also be fined if you fly your drone in an area where it might interfere with nesting birds.
Flying In National Parks And Reserves
You can’t fly your drone in a national park or reserve without permission.
To find out if there are any other rules on flying drones in Western Australia, or if you need to get permission to fly somewhere else, check the Civil Aviation Safety Authority’s website.
These Are The Basic Laws Governing Drone Use In Western Australia
There are two sets of laws governing drone use in Western Australia:
- The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) Recreational and General Use Drones, which covers recreational users flying for fun or sport. For example, this would be someone who flies a drone for fun at the beach on their day off.
- CASA Commercial and Operational Drones, which covers commercial operations such as taking aerial photos or videos for a business or organizations such as real estate agents/land developers and forestry companies where an aircraft is being used for work purposes as well as other commercial uses such as inspecting infrastructure like pipelines, power lines etc
How To Register Drone In Western Australia
It’s important to know how to register your drone with CASA and ReOC in Western Australia. This will show you the steps necessary for obtaining a Remote Pilot License (RePL).
Step 1: Register With Casa
To register your drone, you need to provide the following information:
- Your name, address and date of birth.
- Your email address and phone number.
- Your credit card details (for payment).
- Driver’s licence details (if you have one).
Step 2: Install The Reoc App On Your Phone
Now that you have your drone, it’s time to register so that you can fly it legally. To do this, you’ll need to install ReOC on your phone and connect your drone to the app.
Once you’ve downloaded the app from either the Apple App Store or Google Play, install it on your phone and open it up. Select “Register” from the menu at the bottom of the screen and enter all of your personal details into their required fields (date of birth etc).
Step 3: Provide Casa Reoc With Proof Of Your Identity
Once you have all the required documents, you can register your drone with CASA. To do so, simply submit a copy of each document to CASA ReOC.
- Provide a copy of your photo ID. This can be a passport, driver’s license, or birth certificate. If you don’t have any of these items and are not an Australian citizen, then you must provide another form of proof of identity—such as an Australian citizenship certificate or visa.
Step 4: Complete Your Online Training
You will now be able to complete your online training from CASA.
- The course is free, and it’s estimated to take between 40-60 minutes for most people.* It’s not required for recreational drone pilots.
Step 5: Conduct A Risk Assessment
A risk assessment is the process of identifying hazards and risks, assessing the likelihood of those risks occurring, assessing the severity of those risks and considering how the risks can be mitigated.
For example, you may have identified that there are plenty of trees around your home but then realised that by flying your drone at night you can avoid them.
Step 6: Plan And Brief Your Operations
The last step in your drone registration process is to plan and brief. You should look at the location where you will be flying, and decide on a flight path that ensures safety.
This means identifying obstacles such as buildings, power lines or trees. You also need to ensure that no one is in the way of your drone’s path of flight.
Once this has been done, you can then brief your team on how they need to act during the operation:
Anyone Operating A Drone For Commercial Purposes
Anyone Operating A Drone For Commercial Purposes in Western Australia must have a valid Remote Pilot License.
To apply for your Remote Pilot Licence you will need to complete an online training course and conduct a risk assessment. You will also need to brief your team and drone operator on how they can safely operate the aircraft within the requirements set out by CASA.
The application process takes around 30 days once all documentation has been submitted, so we recommend applying well before you are ready to fly commercially with your drone.
Are Drones Allowed In Western Australia
If you’re a traveler with a drone, there are many restrictions and guidelines surrounding the use of drones within Western Australia. But don’t let this discourage you from taking advantage of this fun hobby.
Travelers With Drones Are Permitted To Bring Them
Travelers With Drones Are Permitted To Bring Them into Western Australia, except in certain areas where there are restrictions.
For example, you may not fly your drone:
- In a declared area; or
- At night (between 30 minutes after sunset and 30 minutes before sunrise).
Can I Operate My Drone Anywhere In Western Australia?
Yes. The only place you can’t fly your drone is in a restricted area. You should also be aware that there are restrictions on flying drones near airports, prisons and other locations.
You should not fly within 5km of:
- fireworks events; or
- fires, including controlled burns (these are often carried out by statutory authorities such as the Department of Fire and Emergency Services).
Can I Fly My Drone Around Fremantle?
- You cannot fly drones within 5km of an airport.
- You cannot fly drones within 5km of a manned aircraft.
- You cannot fly drones within 5km of a public area. This includes roads and beaches, so these are also off-limits for drone flights above your home or workplace.
- You can’t use your drone to cause damage or interference with any public infrastructure such as roads, railways or communication towers (including mobile phone masts).
Do I Need A License To Operate A Drone In Western Australia?
No. You do not need a license to operate a drone. However, in order to fly your drone safely, you must have permission from the landowner or local council and comply with safety rules that apply to all aerial operations (see ‘What are the safety rules I need to follow?’).
You also must respect privacy laws that apply in Western Australia (see ‘How can I protect my privacy when using drones?’).
There are also specific laws relating only to drones and these may vary depending on local circumstances:
- Privacy laws prohibit filming without consent if it could be considered an invasion of personal privacy. For example, you should not fly over private property without permission from the owner or occupier unless there is an overriding public interest for doing so. Even then, if there is any possibility of filming people who may object then it would be wise not to fly over private property without first getting their consent;
- The Personal Property (Aviation) Act applies specifically to drones flying above 400 ft above ground level;
Any other issues such as noise nuisance or putting someone in physical danger will need further consideration under other legislation such as road traffic law;
Do I Need Permission From Landowners Or Local Councils To Fly My Drone?
If you are flying your drone over private property, you need to obtain permission from the landowner. If you are flying your drone over public land, such as national parks or beaches, then you will need to obtain permission from the local council.
This is a requirement of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).
What Are The Safety Rules For Flying A Drone?
When flying your drone, there are a number of safety rules you should follow. These include:
- Don’t fly your drone over crowds
- Don’t fly your drone near airports or military bases
- Don’t fly your drone at night unless you have the appropriate licences and permits in place
- Don’t fly your drone near power lines (for obvious reasons)
- And finally, don’t fly your drone near animals.
Are There Any Places Where I Can’t Fly A Drone?
Yes, you can.
You can fly your drone all over Western Australia, except in the following places:
- No-fly zones. These are areas where flying a drone is not allowed. They are usually controlled by entities such as airports, military bases and prisons, but could also include national parks and many other locations. The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has some great resources on its website if you want more information on no-fly zones and how they affect your location of choice.
- Restricted areas are an extension of no-fly zones; they’re usually controlled by the same authorities that govern no-fly zones (e.g., CASA). Drones aren’t allowed here either because of safety or privacy reasons — or both!
Where Do The Privacy Laws Apply If I’m Flying A Drone In Western Australia?
The privacy laws apply to all drone operators and are enforced by the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC). The law requires that you must not use a drone to conduct surveillance of a person or private property without their consent, unless you are legally permitted to do so.
If you’re operating a drone for commercial purposes, such as for taking photos for an album or selling real estate, then you also need to register with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) and be licensed.
There Are Many Restrictions And Guidelines Surrounding The Use Of Drones
- You can’t fly a drone in a restricted area. This includes areas near major airports, military bases, prisons and nuclear facilities.
- You also can’t fly a drone within 5.5km of an airport or airfield.
- Controlled airspace means that you have to get permission from Airservices Australia before flying your drone in controlled airspace (which covers all of Perth). If you don’t get permission and are caught by police, they will confiscate your drone and give it back to you when they see fit – which could take months!
The Australian Government has created a new licensing system for drones that makes it easier for people to operate UAVs commercially.
You’re allowed to fly a drone up to 120 meters (400 feet) above the ground, and you can fly it within 400 meters (1,300 feet) of an airport. You can carry a drone with a camera on board if it weighs less than 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds).
The Remote Operator Certificate (ReOC) is a mandatory requirement for all commercial drone pilots operating in Western Australia. This article details how to apply for your license and get flying safely!
We hope you’ve found this article helpful. If you want to read more about drones, check out our other articles on the topic.
Frequently Asked Questions (drone Laws Western Australia)
How Do I Know If The Area I Want To Use My Drone In Is Safe?
There are a number of factors to consider when deciding whether an area is safe for drone flights. It’s important to check for any restrictions on the area itself, as well as any restrictions that may be placed on your drone or pilot. For example, some areas will only allow drones to fly at certain times of day and only if they weigh less than 25 kilograms. You’ll also want to make sure that you’re aware of any weather conditions in the vicinity of where you plan to fly. If there’s a chance of rain or strong winds, it might not be wise to take off with your equipment!
Finally, you’ll want to ensure that there aren’t any other regulations surrounding drones in Western Australia—like what type of permit is necessary before operating one within city limits (or outside them).
What Are The Rules For Flying A Drone Near An Airport Or Helicopter Landing Site?
- You can’t fly within 5.5km of an airport or helicopter landing site.
- You can’t fly within 30m of a person, vehicle or structure for more than 30 seconds at a time.
- You can’t fly closer than 30m to another aircraft that is not in your line of sight (for example, if you were flying out over the ocean).
What Are The Rules For Flying A Drone Near An Emergency Situation?
You must not fly any drone within 30 metres of an emergency situation (for example, a car crash or fire), or over an emergency situation.
You must also not fly your drone near or over a police action, including police cars and ambulances.
In addition to these rules, you must not fly your drone near or over a crime scene.
How Can I Tell If An Area Is Off Limits Because Of A Fire Ban Or Other Hazard?
If you’re flying your drone in Western Australia and are unsure if an area is off limits, check the local fire and emergency services website. Check the local council website. Check the local police website. Check the local airport website. Check the maritime safety authority website and aviation safety authority websites
How Do I Know If The Airspace I Want To Use Is Restricted?
To find out if an area is restricted, you can check the Civil Aviation Safety Authority’s map. You can also look up airspace restrictions on the CASA website.