Drone Noise Requirement: listen to this...
Published: 27 June 2022
For this article, we have the pleasure of co-authoring this breaking development concerning new drone noise regulations with Mr Damien Toohey, Barrister-at-Law and A380 pilot.
On 14 December 2021, the Air Navigation (Aircraft Noise) Regulations 2018 (Cth), which we will call the “Noise Regulations“, were amended to explicitly include drone noise.
The Noise Regulations apply to all drones except “exempt RPA” which are defined as:
(a) micro RPA (gross weight of not more than 250 g).; or
(b) being operated in standard RPA operating conditions (within the meaning of the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 1998); or
(c) is being operated for: (i) an agricultural operation; or (ii) an environmental operation; or (iii) a fire fighting, medical or policing purpose; or (iv) a sport or recreation purpose.
These exempt categories are unpacked somewhat In the Noise Regulations as follows:
Agricultural operations means the broadcasting of chemicals, seeds, fertilisers and other substances from aircraft for agricultural purposes, including purposes of pest and disease control.
Environmental operations means the aerial application of substances for the purposes of pollution clean‑up and control.
Fire fighting, medical or policing purpose is not specifically defined in the Noise Regulations.
Sport or recreation purpose is not specifically defined in the Noise Regulations however referring to the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 1998, such activity would technically turn the drone into a model aircraft which indirectly tells us that model aircraft are not captured by the Noise Regulations.
While the Noise Regulations came into play on 14 December 2021, the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications, which we will simply call “the Department” has allowed a grace period to 1 July 2022 for applicable drones to obtain approval.
How do I get approval?
ReOC holders are to apply on behalf of the organisation and its remote pilots by completing an online noise self-assessment form on the Department’s website – that’s right, not CASA. You can start this process here.
Once you complete the self-assessment form, you will either be:
(a) exempted from requiring an approval;
(b) granted an automated approval; or
(c) required to provide a full application to the Department.
The exemption is generally valid for 12 months.
What if I don’t apply for approval?
If you are not approved nor an exempt RPA and get caught flying, you may be up for a $4,440 fine. Importantly, and like most drone offences, this is an offence of strict liability which means if you break the law (regardless of whether you knew or not) you would be guilty of the offence.
What if I apply but don’t get approval?
You may re-apply if rejected initially, otherwise you may be able to appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
This is significant and you should immediately consider your obligations under the Noise Regulations. Mr Toohey and I are considering the deeper issues, legal validity, and other aspects that arise from this law. You are welcome to get in touch if you have any questions or need legal advice.
The Drone Lawyer
27 June 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.