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Standard Operating Conditions (SoCs)

a drone near trees
© Christopher Carson on Unsplash

All operations under the excluded category must be undertaken in accordance with the CASA Standard Operating Conditions (SOC’s). The SOC’s also apply to operations conducted under a ReOC unless the ReOC holder has an approval or instrument giving permission to operate outside these conditions. For example, an SOC is not to fly at night or within 30m of people not involved in the operation, however, many ReOCs contain instruments exempting them from these conditions to an extent.

Another example is that a ReOC holder may apply for approvals to fly higher than 400 ft AGL (above ground level) or Beyond Visual Line of Sight. These approvals need to be granted by CASA and there is a process to attain them that can be easier or harder depending on the type of proposed operations.

The SOCs can be found here

They are:

  • You must not fly higher than 120 metres (400 ft) above the ground, in all locations (etc.)
  • You must not fly your RPA/drone over or near an area affecting public safety or where emergency operations are underway (without prior approval). This could include situations such as a car crash, police operations, a fire and associated firefighting efforts, and search and rescue operations.
  • You must not fly your RPA/drone within 30 metres of people, unless the other person is part of controlling or navigating the drone.
  • You must only fly one RPA/drone at a time.
  • You must keep your RPA/drone at least 5.5km away from controlled aerodromes (usually those with a control tower)
  • You may fly within 3 nautical miles (5.5km) of a non-controlled aerodrome or helicopter landing site (HLS) only if manned aircraft are not operating to or from the aerodrome. If you become aware of manned aircraft operating to or from the aerodrome/ HLS, you must manoeuvre away from the aircraft and land as soon as safely possible. This includes, not operating your RPA/drone within the airfield boundary and not operating your RPA/drone in the approach and departure paths of the aerodrome
  • You must only fly during the day and keep your RPA/drone within visual line-of sight.
  • This means being able to orientate, navigate and see the aircraft with your own eyes (rather than through a device at all times). Example: goggles or video screen.
  • You must not fly your RPA over the top of people. Examples include festivals, sporting ovals, populated beaches, parks, busy roads and footpaths.
  • You must not operate an RPA/drone in a way that creates a hazard to another aircraft, another person, or property
  • You must not operate your RPA/drone in prohibited or restricted areas.
  • CASA also advise to please respect personal privacy. Don’t record or photograph people without their consent—this may breach state laws.

The above operating conditions are a broad reflection of Civil Aviation Safety Regulations Part 101 and do not include all the regulations you must follow. You must abide by all the regulations detailed in Part 101. If you don’t you could face enforcement action, including large fines and possible jail time.

If a ReOC holder wishes to operate outside the SOC’s the following permissions and approvals are required:

Permissions Required for:

  • To operate within 3NM of a controlled aerodrome.
  • To operate within the movement area of a controlled aerodrome.
  • To operate within the movement area of a non-controlled aerodrome.
  • To operate within the approach and departure paths of aircraft.

Area Approval Required for:

  • Above 400ft AGL in controlled airspace.
  • Above 400ft AGL outside controlled airspace.
  • Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS).
  • To operate within a restricted area where CASA is the controlling authority

Your Chief Remote Pilot or delegate (eg. Senior Remote Pilot) will be responsible for the operation of the ReOC and obtaining any necessary approvals or permissions. It is important that you have a system to check that sub-contractors have the necessary approvals in place and that you request a copy of these before operations commence. It is a good idea to ask for these before the sub-contractor arrives on site.

work safety written across a clear board with a man pointing to it

As a ReOC holder your organisation will need to maintain accurate records of all flight operations as required by your Operations Manual. Your Chief Remote Pilot will be responsible for operating this system.

For sub-contractor or other outside providers brought in to do an operations it is important that you have a system by which you can check and verify that the provider hold the appropriate accreditation, approvals and permissions to operate in your work area.

They should also be able to provide JSAs and copies of any relevant flight planning documents.

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Drone Safety for Managers (Australia)

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