Frequently Asked Question

Do you need a license?

Yes and no. If you are flying UAVs or drones for recreational purposes you don’t need to have a licence. But the moment you fly them for any kind of commercial gain (including for non-cash rewards or even to promote your own business) you must hold a licence.

CASA is proposing that operators of drones or UAVs with a weight of less than 2kg may be used commercially after 29 September 2016 without a licence. But even then, every commercial flight will require an explicit permission from CASA before take-off and there will be significant restrictions on unlicensed operators. Operators without a licence may also not be able to obtain public liability insurance.

Are you licensed?

Yes. You should always ask this question of any UAV or drone operator offering to undertake work for you, because if they’re not licensed and insured you could end up being held responsible if people are injured, if property is damaged, or if the operator breaches air safety regulations.

UAV or drone licensing and regulation is managed by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).

Universal Drones is fully CASA licensed and certified through Falcon UAV who hold CASA UAV Operators Certificate No 0427.

Are you insured?

Yes. You should also ask this question of any UAV or drone operator before you hire them. Otherwise you could be left with a very expensive bill if something goes wrong.

Universal Drones carries a $10 million public liability insurance cover provided by QBE Insurance, in conjunction with Falcon UAV.

Is it a drone or a UAV?

Drone or Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), it’s essentially the same thing, although these days our industry and CASA prefer to call the Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems or RPAS. A drone is really something the military fly, but we don’t mind if you prefer to call them “drones”.

Is it safe?

Yes, however improper and uneducated use can be dangerous so always ask about safety as accidents have happened and people can get hurt.

Universal Drones is absolutely committed to a safety management system equivalent to that used by operators or helicopters and light aircraft. This means we operate under strict safety conditions and we carry out both a safety assessment and a risk management plan for every flight.

We follow strict safety procedures and checklists to ensure our equipment and systems are operating normally and that our procedures minimise any risk of accidents or incidents.

When flying near, around or above people we must maintain a safe distance. This safe distance is currently 30 metres.

What limits do you have?

Aside from the 30 metre rule around people, CASA regulations require that we do not:

  • Fly more than 400 feet (120 metres) above the ground
  • Fly within 5 km of any towered airport without specific permission
  • Fly in the landing or take-off zones of any airport without permission
  • Fly beyond visual line of sight (varies according to size of UAV and weather)
  • Fly after sunset or before sunrise
  • Fly in any way which may cause danger or risk to manned aircraft

We cannot fly in rain or moist conditions (like fog or drizzle) as our UAVs contain sensitive electronic equipment which can be damaged by water.

We typically don’t fly indoors, although we can do so in larger buildings like auditoriums and arenas.

Do you spy on people?

No, absolutely not.

Universal Drones will usually not fly over any private property without the permission of the property owner or tenant. We may transit briefly across property boundaries to get a particular shot or when carrying out turns during mapping flights, but our cameras are turned toward the object of our flight.

Spying with drones is mostly media hype and not terribly practical.

Realistically, drones are not well suited to spying on people anyway. Most drones would need to be less than 10 metres above the ground and less than 20 metres from you to get a clear image of you or your family … and you would certainly hear and see them if they were that close.

Can I hire my friend with a drone?

No. Only if your friend holds a Unmanned Operator’s Certificate (UOC). Otherwise your friend is not allowed to fly for any commercial purpose or for any kind of reward.

In fact, if you use an unlicensed operator you may find yourself held liable for any damage or injury they cause and for any regulations they breach.