Choosing a CASA licensed UAV pilot is similar to choosing a licensed trades person. Sure you can get a cheap unlicensed plumber to fix the toilet and save a few dollars – though if things go wrong you may well be out of pocket … and ankle deep in poo.
A CASA Licensed UAV operator has undergone extensive training in both the theory and practical components of the CASA aviation laws governing commercial UAV operations and the legal and engineering limitations of their crafts.
There are many restrictions on recreational vs licensed pilots . Perhaps the greatest one is insurance. If you engage a non licensed UAV pilot then you run the risk not being covered for any damage the pilot may do to your own or neighbouring properties or worse – people. Additionally, you are exposed to privacy issues if your job requires the pilot to fly over other peoples properties – this may find you in higher than ankle deep ! Recreational pilots operate within a very strict regulatory environment. Only CASA licensed pilots can, often with special permissions and always with big insurance coverage:
Fly above 400 feet (120 metres) – with some small exceptions in more remote areas
Fly within 3 nautical miles (5 km) of an aerodrome, airport or helicopter landing site (this means 90% of Ballina and from Belongil North
Fly beyond visual line of site – which in practice usually means about 300 metres
Fly using the screen of your tablet controller – even though these often have real time video (makes it hard to shoot photos and video when you cannot see what you are shooting!)
Fly after dark – between last light of the day and first light of the day
Fly over populous areas – not well defined, but usually means where people live
Fly over people or crowds – e.g. a sporting event or at the beach
Fly within 30 metres of other people who are not part of your flight planning (onlookers)
Fly on private property without the written permission of the land owner
Again, each breach of these rules potentially exposes the operator, and possibly the contractor, a fine of $8500 per offence.
Considering all this it is easy to see why a licensed pilot is a secure bet for quality, security and professionalism in your aerial drone requirements and projects!