22/22 Vision: First look at the new and coming drone regulations…
Published: 7 April 2022
If you’re in a drone related business then you’re most likely familiar with Ol’ CASA 55/20 — Operation of Certain Unmanned Aircraft Directions 2020, which we will call “55/20”, a sneaky little Instrument sitting off to the side of the Regs but nonetheless very significant. Well, 55/20 has now been replaced with CASA 22/22 – Operation of Certain Unmanned Aircraft – Renewal of Directions Instrument 2022, which we will just call “22/22” and is available here.
22/22 is the same as 55/20 except that the aerodrome sections have been removed and moved over to the Part 101 (Unmanned Aircraft and Rockets) Manual of Standards 2019 (Part 101 MOS).
If that satisfies you, I bid you farewell; however if you would like a quick refresher and some commentary around the changes, do read on…
Tell me a little more about 22/22…
First, when I write “drone”, we mean both RPA and Model Aircraft (drone used for sport or recreation and a few other limited uses). We will use RPA or Model Aircraft where the rules make this distinction.
22/22 kicked off on 1 April 2022 and has a present shelf life to the end of 31 March 2025.
It’s worth noting that 22/22 applies to the operation of all drones with a few exceptions, one being the operation of a model aircraft indoors. That is, 22/22 does not apply to drones flown indoors for sport or recreation (and those other specified operations).
In relation to aerodromes, 55/20 had stuff relating to the operation of drones near aerodromes. These have all been moved over into chapters 4 and 9 of the Part 101 MOS. We unpack the Part 101 MOS changes in another article.
Section 5 of 22/22 relates to altitude and is identical to section 7 in 55/20. This section specifies that anyone operating a drone must not operate it higher than 400 feet Above Ground Level (AGL). There are a few exceptions, including operations under an authorization, area approval, or exemption granted under the Regs, or where permitted under a remote pilot licence and certification of the RPA.
Section 6 of 22/22 relates to operating a drone over areas of public safety or emergency operations and is identical to section 8 in 55/20. That is, a drone pilot must not operate the drone over an area where a fire, police, or other public safety or emergency operation is being conducted, unless a person in charge of the emergency operation approves the operation.
Section 7 of 22/22 relates to operating a drone near people and is identical to section 9 of 55/20 except that instead of the drone not being operated “less than” 30 m from a person unless the person has duties essential to the control or navigation of the aircraft; the drone must not be operated “within” 30 m from a person unless the person has duties essential to the control or navigation of the aircraft. Note: one might think that this change also requires amending “from” to “of’. As always, there are exceptions to this rule including if you hold an approval, authorization or exemption.
There is CASA commentary that seems to thwart any loopholes around the 30 m rule. They state that a person being photographed or filmed by a drone – while they are associated with the operation, – they do not have duties essential to the control of the drone, and so are not exempt from the 30 m rule.
It’s also worth noting that the distance of 30 m is measured in every direction from the point on the ground or surface of the water directly below the aircraft, which clarifies that the this section applies to ops over ground and water.
Section 8 relates to operating one drone at a time and is identical to section 10 in 55/20. That is, a person must only operate one drone at a time, unless they hold an approval, authorization or exemption.
Direction 22/22 remains as an interim, precautionary measure and CASA intends to roll these into the Regulations eventually. thereby avoiding a grandma’s patchwork quilt of regulations. We can expect this sometime late 2024 or early 2025.
This is just the distant crack of thunder from the storm of regulations rolling in. This is not to imply it’s a bad thing, rather that there is more to come!
The Drone Lawyer
7 April 2022
Boring lawyer disclaimer: this article is not legal advice. Also, this information and any links are current at the time of publishing but the law might have changed by the time you read this so please take that into account. Rant. Over.