Skip main navigation

New offer! Get 30% off one whole year of Unlimited learning. Subscribe for just £249.99 £174.99. New subscribers only. T&Cs apply

Find out more

What is the Civil Aviation Safety Authority?

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority licenses pilots, registers aircraft, and promotes safety. This article looks at it in more detail.
man flying a done against a blue sky
© Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

What is CASA?

Let’s start with a simple definition.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) is the Australian national aviation authority, the government statutory authority responsible for the regulation of civil aviation. It is responsible to the Minister of Transport and was established in 1988.

CASA’s responsibility includes the safety regulation of:

  • Civil air operations within Australian territory
  • Operation of Australian aircraft outside Australian territory
  • Developing and promulgating appropriate, clear and concise aviation safety standards
  • Developing effective enforcement strategies to secure compliance with aviation safety standards
  • Administering drug and alcohol management plans and testing
  • Issuing certificates, licences, registrations and permits
  • Conducting comprehensive aviation industry surveillance
  • Conducting regular reviews of the system of civil aviation safety in order to monitor the safety performance of the aviation industry
  • Conducting a regular assessment of international safety developments

The Civil Aviation Safety Regulation part 101 (CASR 101) consolidates all the rules applicable to RPA into one body of regulation.

Drone regulation

CASA regulates drones in terms of the drone’s size and what you want to do with it. In our context, the divisions in weight that matter most in a regulatory sense are those that weigh less than 2kg and those that weigh more than 2kg. The division in what you use the drone for is if the drone is being used for a commercial purpose or for recreation. In this course, we’ll assume you are going to use drones for commercial purposes.

Drones that weigh less than 2 kg may operate in what is called the ‘excluded category’ (essentially, they are ‘excluded’ from being subject to some of the regulations pertaining to drones that weigh more than 2kgs). From July 2019 CASA intends to introduce a registration process for all drones more than 250 grams recreationally and all drones operated commercially regardless of weight. CASA also intends to introduce an accreditation scheme for operators at the same time. More information can be found on Casa’s website.

Licences and certificates

Organisations using drones that weigh more than 2kg commercially need to hold a Remotely Piloted Aircraft Operator’s Certificate (ReOC), and pilots using drones that weigh more than 2kg are required to hold a Remote Pilot Licence.

You will need an aviation reference number (ARN) if you hold, or intend to hold, any licence, permission or authorisation with CASA. An ARN is similar to an account or customer number. Only one ARN will be issued for each legal entity. An ARN will not be issued to business names, consortiums or partnerships.

CASA has developed some Standard Operating Conditions (SoCs) for using drones. These are the base requirements that must be followed unless your organisation holds a Remotely Piloted Aircraft Operator’s Certificate with exemptions on it, and your pilots hold Remote Pilot Licences. You will learn more about the Standard Operating Conditions in the next activity.

This article is from the free online

Drone Safety for Managers (Australia)

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now