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New Safety Regulations Announced for Australian Drone Pilots

CANBERRA: Australian drone pilots will be subjected to stricter regulations from January 2019, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has said.

Under the regulations, CASA will have access to monitoring technology capable of identifying a drone’s serial number and locating the pilot on the ground.

Drone pilots will also be subjected to a mandatory accreditation process via an online exam.

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The announcement came after 1,000 flights out of London’s Gatwick Airport were either cancelled or diverted over the busy Christmas period after a drone was reportedly spotted flying over the runway.

However, CASA’s Peter Gibson said the crackdown was planned before the Gatwick incident.

“While London’s incident was not the catalyst for our changes, it is certainly timely,” he told the News Corp Australia on Monday.

“There are a lot more people flying drones now and with that comes the risk that some people will fly them inappropriately.”

Starting in January, the authorities will roll out new drone surveillance technology at major airports and begin random drone safety checks.

“We will be able to see what type of drones are being used, where, how often and obviously identify if they’re being used incorrectly,” Gibson said.

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“The technology allows you to identify where the drone is in the sky, where the controller is on the ground and in most cases also tells us the serial number of the drone.”

“This way we can far more easily ­locate who is flying the drone and, if they’re in breach of the rules, we can issue a penalty on the spot.”

Every drone purchase in Australia will have to be registered with CASA, a measure Gibson said will prevent a mass aviation disruption.

“People purchasing drones will be required to register with us so we have information about who is flying drones, and as part of that process you’ll be required to look at some educational material and do an online test to show you’ve got an understanding of the rules,” he said.

“This will give us information on who is actually flying drones and enable us to directly push ­educational material so they’re aware of the rules.”