CASA, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, is in charge of Australia’s rules and regulations for aircraft, including drones.
As of 29 September 2016, CASA will be changing the rules that govern who is permitted to fly a drone for commercial purposes such as aerial photography.
If you’re a real estate agent who invests, or is thinking about investing, in aerial real estate photos or videos for property marketing, it’s important to understand how the CASA drone rule changes will affect you.
Currently, anyone who flies a drone for commercial purposes must have a UAV Operator’s Certificate and Remote Pilot License.
As of 29 September, however, anyone who wants to operate a drone that’s under 2kg for commercial purposes (i.e. something they’ll get paid to do) will be permitted to do so if they abide by certain restrictions.
To be eligible, the drone operator will need to notify CASA of their intentions to fly prior to each job, only fly during the day, only fly less than 120 metres above ground level, and not fly within 30 metres of people or 5.5 kilometres of a controlled aerodrome.
How This Affects You
The relaxation of drone regulations come September means that real estate photographers could potentially begin to operate drones for aerial photography and videography without being CASA qualified. However, before you engage with such a photographer, it’s important to keep the following issues in mind.
You cannot get public liability insurance for a drone if the operator doesn’t have a CASA Operators Certificate and Remote Pilot License.
In such cases, if something happens to the drone (e.g. it crashes through the roof of your vendor’s home, flies into traffic, hits another person’s property, or injures a passer-by), your drone operator will not be covered by insurance. Not only is this something no one wants to be involved with financially, it’s most likely something you wouldn’t want to be involved with ethically, either.
You cannot gauge the experience of a drone operator who isn’t CASA qualified. And they mightn’t be very experienced at all.
To obtain a CASA license, an operator must go through the necessary training and learn the appropriate rules and regulations for air traffic safety. An unlicensed drone operator does not have to do either of these things. Not only does this mean they mightn’t be as skilled at piloting a drone, they may also lack essential knowledge of Australian air space law, making them potentially dangerous to other people and aircraft.
Photo & Video Quality
A 2kg drone can’t hold much of a camera. It certainly can’t hold a professional camera with multiple lenses and other manually customisable settings necessary for quality real estate photography.
Because they can’t fly with quality cameras, using an unlicensed operator for your aerial real estate photos and videos will provide a poor return on investment compared to the results a licensed operator with a quality camera can produce.
Unlicensed drone operators cannot fly at night for commercial purposes.
Not only does this mean they cannot capture stills or shots in the evening – they’re also unable to shoot at dusk. So if you want to create a stunning dusk real estate video, you can’t go with an unlicensed operator.
You can’t get aerial shots within 30 metres of people or 5.5 kilometres of controlled airspace if your drone operator isn’t CASA qualified.
In contrast, a drone operator who holds the necessary licenses is permitted to fly within 15 metres of people, and can also operate within controlled airspace. This is particularly important if your listing is in a densely populated area or near an airport.
Fly Safe, Not Sorry
While we acknowledge that as of 29 September, you’ll be legally permitted to work with an unlicensed drone operator, at Digital Real Estate, we strongly advise you to fly only with certified operators.
If anyone offers you drone aerial photography services, ask them for a copy of their CASA certificates, or check that they’re licensed on CASA’s official listing of drone operators.
Fly safe, not sorry, and you can enjoy the benefits of aerial real estate photography and videography without the potential headaches that could come when dealing with an unlicensed operator.
Digital Real Estate & Drones
At Digital Real Estate, our aerial photography and videography services are provided by qualified and experienced photographers who have all the necessary CASA qualifications and certificates. If you want to work with a safe, insured, and fully licensed drone operator, contact us today.