Legislative Carve Outs Promote Beyond Visual Line of Sight Drone Operations

Published: 7 April 2023

Exec Summary

Under a new legislative Instrument, drone operations where the drone is not within the visual line of sight of the pilot, but is within the visual line of sight of an observer who is in another location to the pilot, will not require the pilot or any other personnel to have the qualifications typically required for these operations.

There is a bit more to it which we will now unpack, along with a little background for context.

A bit more detail and background

On 5 April 2023, the Federal Government released Instrument number CASA EX27/23 – Remotely Piloted Aircraft Operations Beyond Visual Line of Sight Exemption 2023, which is accessible here, and which replaces and updated Instrument number CASA EX46/21 – Remotely Piloted Aircraft Operations Beyond Visual Line of Sight Instrument 2021.

It allows a pilot operating under a Remote Pilot Operator Certificate (ReOC) to be exempt from complying with the visual line of sight requirements without having passed the Part 61 Instrument Rating Exam (IREX) or other approved exam (like the new BVLOS OCTA qual) on the condition that:

(a) the ReOC holder has approval to operate the RPA beyond visual line of sight; and

(b) the operation complies with the operator’s documented practices and procedures for such an operation; and

(c) the pilot must be under the immediate supervision of a supervising remote pilot, who is someone who has passed the IREX or BVLOS OCTA and who is also at the place where the pilot is located; and readily accessible; and immediately available to advise, and direct, the remote pilot.

However, the supervising remote pilot is not required if it’s an enclosed operation or an EVLOS operation.

Refresher on enclosed operation: where the RPA is operated within a building or other structure, or a naturally occurring or manufactured space underground, in circumstances where:

(a) it is physically impossible for the RPA to escape and fly away from the enclosure if the RPA is no longer under the control of the pilot; and

(b) if the RPA collides with any part of the enclosure, no material from the RPA, or enclosure can move or escape and cause injury to a person outside the enclosure.

Refresher on EVLOS: means Extended Visual Line of Sight which is divided in EVLOS operation class 1 and EVLOS operation class 2. Both involve the RPA being beyond the visual line of sight of the pilot but where the RPA remains within the visual line of sight of an observer or observers.

The difference is that in class 1, the observer is in the same location as the pilot; whereas in class 2, the observer is in a different location from the pilot.

This brings us to the main difference between the old and new Instruments, which is that in the old Instrument, the exemption did not apply to EVLOS operation class 2, whereas the new Instrument includes EVLOS operation class 2 as an “exempted flight” not requiring the pilot to have a BVLOS qualification or a supervising remote pilot.

What does this mean for me?

Fortunately, less red tape and a greater number of operations not requiring as many qualifications. This is because CASA sees the other measures as adequate safeguards that mitigate against the risks of the operation.

Fly free!

The Drone Lawyer

The lawyers in your corner of the sky.

7 April 2023

Disclaimer: this article provides general information, it is NOT legal advice, and is no substitute for reading the source materials blah blah blah you know the drill.