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The key responsibilities of a remote pilot

For pilots, safety is the most important consideration. This means the safety of yourself, the crew, and the public.

Responsibilities of the remote pilot

There’s a reason we hear the term “safety first” so often in our daily lives: doing what you can to protect the wellbeing of yourself and others are more important than any piece of equipment or task to be completed.

As a pilot, you must dedicate yourself to being mindful of consistently doing all that is needed to best produce successful and safe results in all possible ways.

Always follow CASA’s Standard Operating Procedures and/or in accordance with the capabilities on your / your employer’s ReOC.

Planning a safe, successful flight

Planning is a critical step in a safe, successful flight. There is a saying: Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail. There are many things to consider before your maiden flight and every take-off thereafter. Although it may take time, it is essential to use the Pre-Flight checklist to be certain that you have gone over all functions necessary for your planned mission.

The best way to identify potential risks is in person. It is a good idea to visit a location in advance to see if there is enough space and if the location presents any possible hazards. Develop a plan to best mitigate risks to such a degree that is tolerable to all involved with the flight area. You likely need to get a permit or at least permission to fly in an area, even if it appears to be an empty field.

In relation to the operator’s documented practices and procedures

The Chief Pilot and Maintenance controller are to ensure that all practices and procedures comply with the Remotely Piloted Aircraft Operator’s Certificate (ReOC). As a Remote Pilot, you will need to familiarise yourself with the Operations Manual and Operational Procedures Library of the ReOC holder and abide by the procedures contained within it.

In keeping operational logs in accordance with section 6.6

All ReOC holders will have standardised Flight and Maintenance Logs in their Operations Manual and/or Operational Procedures Library. It is really important that these logs are kept and kept accurately as they form both part of the ongoing recording and evidence keeping, as well as continuous improvement processes.

It is becoming more common for ReOC holders to operate electronic or online Flight and Maintenance Logs and there is a variety of these available.

Post-flight considerations

After an operation has ended

The ReOC holder will have post-flight checklists that will need to be completed. These will be in the Operations Manual and/or Operational Procedures Library. Make sure you complete these diligently as they are very important both to keep evidence of flights and also for continuous improvement processes.

In relation to disarming the RPA

When flying is complete, this is the order of shutdown:

Aircraft – Off.

Battery – Remove.

Remote Control – Off.

Aircraft noise and wildlife

The use of RPAs in the vicinity of animals or wildlife should consider the following to minimise wildlife disturbance:

  • Comply with relevant CAS/CASR requirements
  • Obtain relevant permits and permission from landowners
  • Ensuring all UAV methods are in accordance with approved permits
  • Where appropriate, approval for flight should be sought from indigenous communities.
  • UAVs should be selected to minimise visual and audio stimulus to target and non-target wildlife
  • Sensors should be optimised (e.g. focal length) to enable the collection of suitable data from a UAV operated, typically, as high or as far as possible from the subjects.
  • Exercise minimum wildlife disturbance flight practices
  • Particular attention should be given to siting launch and recovery sites away from animals (out of sight if possible) and maintaining a reasonable distance from animals at all times during the flight
  • Species-specific protocols, including optimum flight altitude, should be developed and implemented wherever possible
  • Cease UAV operations if they are excessively disruptive. Animal responses should be measured during UAV operations (and before and after if possible)
  • Operations should be aborted if excessive disturbance results.
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Drone Safety for Managers (Australia)

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