Sign the petition to support disallowance of recent Australian drone amendment laws

On 29 March 2016 the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) introduced an amendment to Part 101 of the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 1998 (CASR) and other regulations, called the Civil Aviation Legislation Amendment (Part 101) Regulation 2016 (CALA).

CALA was tabled in both Houses on 18 April 2016.

ACUO seeks your support for a member of the Senate to put a Notice of Motion for disallowance of this particular piece of problematic delegated legislation.  Disallowance, if voted by majority of the Senate, will mean that CALA is repealed, and we get to think afresh about the issues before rushing into new law.

The principal features of the CALA amendment are:

·         relaxation of existing sensible impediments of training and certification to be able to commercially operate aircraft of certain sizes up to 2kg in weight;

·         relaxation of the ability of certain property owners to use such aircraft, including aircraft up to 25 kg in weight, without training and certification for private purposes;

·         relaxation of the requirement for all drone operators to avoid all aerodromes, replacing it with a requirement that such aircraft must keep away from only controlled aerodromes; and

·         uncertainty as to future requirements preventing operation of such aircraft in controlled airspace above 400 feet AGL.

Additionally, the legislative amendment does not introduce sensible risk mitigation and enforcement measures uniformly recognised around the world to be necessary for the prevention of harm (such as mid-air strike with passenger airliners), and enforcement of the law (for example, by way of identifying and prosecuting the malicious, or untrained and reckless misusers of such aircraft, whether they be recreational, commercial, or otherwise).

Why do we seek disallowance?

As the Explanatory Memorandum to the CALA confirms, consultation was principally completed in 2014, some two years ago. Leaps and bounds in the understanding of risks associated with all sizes of drone have been made since that time.

It is unclear why Australia is unique in not having introduced commonsense measures to prevent the misuse of such aircraft by, for example, restricting the age of remote pilots, introducing a suitable register to assist with the surveillance and supervision of drone operators of all varieties, and requiring that drone pilots simply inspect their aircraft for serviceability and airworthiness before each flight.

There has also been no clear consideration of non-aviation policy measures which would improve the safety situation, including:

·         import controls on high powered vehicles and their components;

·         categorisation of certain sized vehicles as weapons, given the damage may result in the hands of wrongdoers when used as such (eg, this is the case for other easily obtained devices such as laser pointers, which present a safety hazard to passenger flights when used by misguided individuals);

·         security/background vetting for recreational users of high powered and large drones, whose lack of training may unintentionally or maliciously cause serious threats to safety; and

·         making suitable insurance compulsory for all commercial operators.

We are unified with all commercial drone operators around the country, including those represented by other associations, on the need to:

·         educate the community about sensible use of, and risks associated with drones;

·         develop a professional standard of operation for commercial operators; and

·         ensure the enforcement of existing laws against those who misuse drones.

Such simple policy solutions are features of a diverse variety of nations’ recent drone laws including USA, Ghana, and India who all made such laws this year, having the benefit of seeing how Australian law has developed in the past decade.

In particular, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has developed rules which very simply and effectively address the burgeoning industry (recreational and commercial).  It seems strange then, that Australia should back away from what has worked for so long, when a clear pathway such as that available in reforms made by the US FAA, are available to ensure safety remains unchallenged.

Repeal of this legislation will prevent the erosion of legislative protections which have made Australia’s remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) industry, and its associated trades, one of the safest in the world.

It will also ensure that very recent and relevant worldwide learnings in the mitigation of safety risks associated with RPAS will be considered before any replacement legislation is made.

What will happen if the law is allowed to become operational on 29 September 2016?

Without a Notice of Motion for disallowance we predict a serious increase in preventable accidents causing injury and death.

What is next?

The start of the new Parliament is an opportunity to lead a positive and long-lasting change in such regulation. Also, timing wise, we know that, as with last Christmas, drones are expected to be the gift of choice again in 2016, so the temptation for especially young people with no training to engage in money making exploits with dangerous aerial vehicles will be high in coming months.

This must be stopped.

Disallowance can start the ball rolling towards Australia once again leading the world with RPAS legislation that is fit for purpose and maintains our high safety margins.  Once this piece of legislation is disallowed CASA will not be able to make a similar law for at least 6 months ensuring that all interested stakeholders have time to push for better new laws, perhaps in some ways reflecting positives from overseas such as the FAA’s new Part 107 introduced on 21 June 2016.

What can you do to help?

If you support us please let us know and sign this petition!

This will help us send a message to our elected representatives about the interests of safety we stand for.

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