Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS)

Where UNSW activities involve Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS)  it is essential that operators and crew understand that they are operating within the national aviation system; that they have an obligation to be aware of the information and regulatory requirements relating to aviation operations and to follow UNSW procedures and protocols.  This includes:

  • CASR 1988 Subpart 101
  • Advisory Circular AC101-01 Remotely piloted aircraft systems – licencing and operations
  • Advisory Circular AC101-05 Functions and duties of RPAS maintenance controllers
  • Advisory Circular AC101-10 Remotely Piloted aircraft systems – operation of excluded RPA
  • UNSW HS917 Fieldwork Procedure and HS419 Fieldwork Guidelines
  • UNSW RPA Operation Procedures

The use of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems for the purpose of research or education is considered commercial use by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority’s (CASA).

All UNSW RPA operations are managed through the Research Ethics and Compliance Office (RECS) – RPA (Drone) operation and management.   UNSW has a Remotely piloted aircraft operator’s certificate (ReOC) and a Chief Remote Pilot: Dr Yincai Zhou.  Enquiries about RPAS operations are to be made by contacting:

Dr Ted Rohr, Director Research Ethics & Compliance Support
E:      T: (02) 9385 4235
From September 29 amendments to Part 101 come into effect. 

The changes include:

  • new weight classifications for RPA’s
  • a new category “excluded RPA” with reduced regulatory requirements for some weight classes provided that standard operating conditions are met.

People flying under the excluded RPA category still have regulatory and safety requirements to meet, including notifying CASA 5 days prior to the first flight (refer to RPA AC101-10 v1.0 and also CASR 1988 101.F).   Safety requirements include local UNSW procedures for risk management i.e. risk assessment and emergency planning, safe work procedures, documented maintenance of equipment including batteries, documented flight times, approval of fieldwork activities, notification of fieldwork trips and call back arrangements.

In collaboration with RECS, BEES will establish clear guidelines for RPA operators.  The aims of the guidelines are to:

  • encourage and facilitate use of RPA’s for research
  • ensure adequate & efficient  risk management systems are in place
  • ensure that we are meeting our regulatory obligations including in relation to licencing and CASA notification
  • establish electronic systems for record keeping and equipment management

If you are involved with using RPA’s for research or teaching then please contact Hayley Bates.