Drone Regulatory Wrap-Up: a glance back at 2022…

Published: 3 January 2023


Happy New Year to you. As we launch into 2023, it can be helpful to glance back on the year that was, to ensure that the regulatory changes, and handy resources produced by the regulator are considered in your operations going forward. Here are 6 regulatory developments from 2022. 

Instrument 55/20 replaced with Instrument 22/22

If you were a commercial drone operator before April 2022 then you may be familiar with CASA 55/20 — Operation of Certain Unmanned Aircraft Directions 2020. This was replaced with CASA 22/22 – Operation of Certain Unmanned Aircraft – Renewal of Directions Instrument 2022.

This “pothole covering / loophole stopping” Instrument closes a few gaps and creates a few catch-alls which are lacking in the Regs. It’s short and sharp – with only 8 rules, but don’t be fooled by the brevity, its significance is up there with the Regs themselves. Our full article on this Instrument, the amendments form its predecessor and link to the Instrument itself is accessible here.

Noise Regulations

Noise, probably one of the top 3 aspects that immediately comes to mind when people (typically non-operators) consider drones. Despite this, it’s a largely unregulated area, until July 2022.

The Air Navigation (Aircraft Noise) Regulations 2018 (Cth), were amended in December 2021 to explicitly include drone noise. However, the Department of Infrastructure etc. provided until 1 July 2022, for operators to complete an online noise self-assessment.

These new Noise Regulations apply to all drones except “exempt RPA”. Our full article with relevant links is available here.

CASA Regulatory Roadmap

Across a bunch of sessions from July 2021 to January 2022 (and a fair bit of homework in between), 12 industry representatives, guided and facilitated by CASA, pursued the daunting and ambitious task of drawing up a regulatory roadmap to accommodate the use of drones into the future to roughly 2036.

The result was CASA’s Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) and Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) Strategic Regulatory Roadmap. It sets out CASA’s long-term plan for safely integrating drone technology into Australia’s airspace and future regulatory system, alongside traditional aviation looking out to 2036.

It is accessible here.

Part 101 Manual of Standards “tweaks”

The Ol’ Part 101 Manual of Standards was subject to over 150 tweaks across two updated versions in 2022. If you haven’t reviewed the MOS in a while (or ever) here’s a link so you can have a peruse. The version at the top is the most recent version.

New Advisory Circular

While not law, Advisory Circulars can be quite handy to put some real-world context around the Regulations.

CASA Advisory Circular: Remotely piloted aircraft systems – licensing and operations AC 101-01v 4.0 was released in September 2022.

AC’s are intended to provide advice, guidance and explanation of the Regulations; but not a replacement for them. Updates in v4 include:

– Changes to NOTAM submissions;

– RPA registration requirements;

– ATSB incident reporting requirements;

– Noise regulation requirements.

You can search for it from this page.

CASA Safety Management Systems for RPAS

In December 2022, CASA released a dedicated safety management system (SMS) resource booklet designed specifically for commercial drone operators.

An SMS is an organised approach to managing safety and includes formalised processes, roles, and responsibilities that help make sure risks are appropriately identified and managed.

The booklet is designed for use by commercial drone operators, with the information contained targeted towards ReOC holders who have either no formal SMS or only a basic SMS in place. It provides guidance on the elements of a SMS for organisations to consider when implementing, evaluating, or enhancing their SMS.

At 44-pages with plenty of images and spacing, it’s comprehensive without being cumbersome, and is accessible here.


We hope this was of value. If any of the above is unfamiliar to you, or is unclear, you are welcome to get in touch to discuss.

Also, we have another article coming soon which runs through some of the pending and emerging regulatory changes coming up in 2023.

Fly Free!

The Drone Lawyer

3 January 2023