People operating drones that weigh more than 2 kg for commercial purposes must hold a Remote Pilot Licence (RePl). Organisations using drones that weigh more than 2kg require a Remotely Piloted Aircraft Operator’s Certificate (ReOC). All RePL holders, when performing commercial activity must operate under a ReOC.
An organisation that holds a ReOC will have an Operations Manual and an Operational Procedures Library.
The Operations Manual contains the standard operating conditions for the organisation, as well as the name of the Chief Pilot and Maintenance Controller. The Operational Procedures Library contains the kinds of drones the organisation can operate and procedures for using them.
CASA authorises the use of drones on organisations’ ReOCs by weight class. An organisation will have authorisation to use drones up to a maximum weight class, including all weight classes beneath that weight.
The classes are:
very small (100g – <2kg)
small (2 – <25kg) (where required with 7kg restriction)
medium (25 – <150kg)
For most purposes, we think of weight classes as either sub 2kg or over 2kg. This is because sub 2kg drones may be operated in an ‘excluded category’ which means some of the requirements for licencing and certification do not currently apply to drones that weigh less than 2kg.
However, it is important to note that people operating drones under the excluded category need to inform CASA of their proposed operations, and they can only do so as individuals. Your organisation can not notify or register as a sub 2kg excluded category operator as an organisation.
RePL holders have conditions on their licences. These are about the type of drone and the weight class of the drone that they can operate. The types of drone are multirotor, fixed wing, powered lift, and airship. The weight classes align with those previously mentioned.
For instance, the operator may be licenced to use multi-rotor drones up to 25kg with restriction of up to 7kg. Or the operator may be licenced up to 25kg fixed wing. Any aircraft over 25kg is type certified. This means the operator must hold a licence that certifies them to operate that specific aircraft type at the specified weight.
It is very important that your procedures include a system to check all users of drones are correctly licenced in the right category, whether they are your employees or sub-contractors brought in for a task.