With drones expected to be one of the most popular items under Christmas trees this year, experts and aviation authorities are reminding first-time owners to follow the rules to avoid becoming a pest and potentially landing a hefty fine.
Over the past year, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority has received at least one complaint every week from Canberra residents regarding drone usages around the capital.
Director of Drone Boot Camp in Canberra, Mark Will, said there were three common mistakes first time drone users made.
"They [drone users] often make their first drone a high spec model that is beyond their capability. Crashing is inevitable and extremely dangerous, not to mention expensive, to crash a weighty drone worth thousands of dollars," Mr Will said.
"Secondly, most first time flyers don't realise engaging in aviation with remotely piloted aircraft are subject to CASA rules and regulations. A breach of these rules could land irresponsible drone pilots in hot water with fines in excess of $1000."
The final mistake was drone users flying in the wrong places.
Under the civil aviation rules and regulations, drone users must not put people, aircrafts or any property in harm's way.
Spokesperson for the aviation authority, Peter Gibson, said while drones can be purchased by anyone, people need to understand the safety measures in place.
"Rules apply to everybody, regardless of age," Mr Gibson said.
"If you give your kids a drone for Christmas, you need to understand it's not a give-and-forget type of toy present. It's a give and then [requires] education and supervision."
People using drones for recreational purposes do not need a license to fly their drones.
However, if flying a drone commercially, drone users need to be licensed and certified by CASA.
The aviation authority ruled drone users must not fly within 30 metres of people or over people and must be within line of vision – that is, drone users must be able to see their drones with their own eyes and not through a device.
Drones weighing more than 100g must keep a distance of 5.5km from any helicopter landing site and controlled aerodromes including hospitals and airports.
Mr Will said, "The best place for drone flying is a local park, reserve or sports oval - one that provides for the 30-metre rule to be obeyed.
"Canberra as a location for flying drones is a blessing and a curse, there are a lot of recreational spaces to fly safely but it can be a windy place, and many Canberrans live within 5.5km of Canberra Airport.
And if you're thinking of flying your drone around Canberra's landmarks, such as the Parliament House, National Museum of Australia, or the war memorial – think again.
Many of these landmarks are within the 5.5km distance from Canberra airport and Canberra hospitals.
In NSW, consent is needed if drone users want to fly over national parks and beaches.
The Can I Fly There? app is available for download from the CASA website.
Basic rules for drones:
- You must not fly above 120 metres in all locations
- You must not fly your drone in the area of a public safety or emergency operation, for example a bushfire, police, or search and rescue operation
- You must not fly within 30 metres of people, unless the other person is essential to controlling or navigating the drone
- You must operate only one drone at a time
- If your drone weighs more than 100 grams:
- You must not fly within 5.5 kilometres of a controlled aerodrome (usually those that have a control tower) at any time
- You must not begin flying within 5.5 kilometres of a non-controlled aerodrome if there is a manned aircraft operating to, or from, the aerodrome
- You must not fly at night, or in fog or cloud
- When flying you must be able to see your drone with your own eyes (not just on your app screen, first person view goggles or binoculars)
- You must not fly over people