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Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs
29/05/2014
Drones and privacy

BOYD, Mr Peter, Executive Manager, Standards Division, Civil Aviation Safety Authority

COYNE, Mr Jim, Manager, Future Technology and Regulatory Trends, Civil Aviation Safety Authority

FARQUHARSON, Mr Terry, Deputy Director of Aviation Safety, Civil Aviation Safety Authority

MAZOWITA, Mr Grant, Manager, Standards Development and Quality Assurance, Civil Aviation Safety Authority

McCORMICK, Mr John, Director of Aviation Safety, Civil Aviation Safety Authority

Committee met at 09:33

CHAIR ( Mr Christensen ): I now declare open this public hearing of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs. I would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land and pay our respects to the elders past, present and future. The committee also acknowledges the present Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who now reside in this area and thanks them for their continuing stewardship of this land.

Almighty God, we humbly beseech Thee to vouchsafe Thy blessing upon this committee, direct and prosper our deliberations to the advancement of Thy glory and true welfare of the people of Australia:

Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name.

Your kingdom come,

your will be done,

on earth, as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,

and forgive us our trespasses,

as we forgive those who trespass against us.

And lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil.

For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Please note that these meetings are formal proceedings of the parliament. Everything said should be factual and honest. It can be considered a serious matter to attempt to mislead the committee. This committee is open to the public and is being broadcast live. A transcript of what is said will be placed on the committee's website.

With all the formalities out of the way, I would like to welcome the Civil Aviation Safety Authority once again to this committee and this formal hearing. Can I ask if you, Mr McCormick, want to make an opening statement before we get into some questions?

Mr McCormick : Yes, Chair, I would like to make a short opening statement thank you. I would like to thank the committee for the invitation to provide a briefing on our recent developments in the area of remotely piloted aircraft, RPAs.

On 14 May this year CASA released for industry and public consultation a notice of proposed rulemaking, or NPRM, for Civil Aviation Safety Regulation part 101 as it relates to remotely piloted aircraft. This NPRM was developed by a team consisting of CASA staff, personnel from the Department of Defence, industry and community organisations. I would like to thank all of those involved with the preparation of this NPRM for their efforts in considering ways forward for the regulation of remotely piloted aircraft, which continues to be a challenging and controversial topic.

This amendment to CASR part 101 relates to RPA use for commercial operations, but excludes model aircraft used for recreational purposes. Regulation of model aircraft will be the subject of future work in regulatory proposals to ensure the safety regime for these aircraft continues to be appropriate in terms of managing the safety risks involved. The current proposed amendments establish a revised risk-based framework for regulating RPA operations. A key part of this amendment acknowledges the existence of a low-risk class of RPA operations, which is determined as 'small RPA' with a gross weight of two kilograms and below while—and I will stress this—they are being operated under the standard RPA operating conditions as defined and discussed in the NPRM.

For these types of RPA operations under these conditions CASA proposes that the requirement for a remote pilot certificate, or an unmanned aircraft systems operator certificate, will not apply. Any suggestions that operations of this type will become unregulated is not correct. RPAs with a gross weight above two kilograms, in all operating conditions, and all RPA operating outside of the standard RPA operating conditions, will require an operation approval from CASA. The operational approval process must include a documented risk assessment and treatment plan describing how identified safety risks will be managed to an acceptable level. Further, the regulation continues to provide that a person must not operate any unmanned aircraft in a way that creates a hazard to another aircraft, another person or property.

This NPRM also proposes a number of changes to update the current terminology used within CASR part 101, to bring it line with the latest terminology used by the International Civil Aviation Organization; to clarify the current requirements for remote pilot training and certification; to remove redundant requirements; and to simplify the process for approval.

I would like to provide you with some more detail about CASA's rationale for the move to this risk-based framework. CASA has investigated the risk and the potential for harm to people and property on the ground and other airspace users associated with impacts from small RPA in order to determine a low-kinetic energy RPA mass. A human injury prediction model was developed for the impact of small RPA. This model provides estimates of injury severity as a function of the RPA's mass and impact velocity. A number of other national aviation authorities have also investigated the risks associated with small RPA. The general consensus is that RPA with a gross weight of two kilograms and below have a very low kinetic energy, pose very little risk to aviation and have a low potential for harm to people and property on the ground and other airspace users. By coupling this weight with a set of safety conditions that limit the operation of these small RPAs, CASA proposes that the regulation relating to the requirement for an RP certificate will not apply to RPA of two kilograms and below, provided they are operated under the following standard RPA operating conditions.

The standard operating conditions are: the RPA's remote pilot can directly see the RPA with or without corrective lenses, but without the use of binoculars, telescope or other similar device; the RPA is operated below 400 feet AGL in visual meteorological conditions, by day; the RPA is not operated within 30 metres of a person who is not directly associated with the operation of the RPA; and the RPA is not being operated in controlled airspace, in or over a prohibited or restricted area, over a populous area or within three nautical miles or five kilometres of an aerodrome.

In respect of RPA training and certification, the current requirements for eligibility for certification were established in 2002 and combine some of the requirements governing model aircraft and private pilot licences. These requirements have been simplified, and redundant requirements removed. If an applicant meets the manufacturer-conducted training course in the operation of an RPA that he or she proposes to operate, then he or she is still eligible for an RP certificate. The approval process and the qualification needed to obtain a remote pilot certificate or an unmanned aircraft systems operator certificate are being clarified to explain that an operator will not require these certificates for the operation of an RPA for practice, training or demonstration purposes. However, both certificates will be required when the RPA is being used for hire and reward. The existing regulation is currently silent on whether persons are allowed to carry out maintenance on an RPA, and the proposed amendment will permit persons to carry out maintenance on an RPA that is an Australian aircraft.

The next steps in the process are as follows. Comments on these proposals are due with CASA by 16 June 2014. I would like to emphasise that no rule changes will be undertaken until CASA has considered all NPRM responses and submissions received by the closing date. At the end of the response period for public comment all submissions will be analysed, evaluated and considered. Subsequent to the closing date for comments, a Notice of Final Rule Making—NFRM—will be prepared and published in accordance with the making of a final rule.

A summary of the comments provided in each submission will be published without attribution, and a summary of responses is typically provided as an annex to the subsequent Notice of Final Rule Making. A preliminary date for the proposed rules to be made is the third quarter of 2014, subject to the usual procedures for making Commonwealth regulations.

CASA will monitor and review the new rules on an ongoing basis during the transition phase. Thereafter, following the commencement of the rules, CASA will conduct post-implementation monitoring and reviews as needed, or every two to three years as required by current government guidelines.

CASA is participating in the work being undertaken by the International Civil Aviation Organization, which is developing standards, recommended practices, and guidance material for the operation of RPA. CASA's regulations will take the evolving international standards into account as they are agreed to.

There has been some press speculation about possible safety consequences of CASA's proposal. I would like to stress that CASA has undertaken a risk study which took into account an unlikely impact with an aircraft. CASA is not dealing with the issue in haste. We have developed proposals within the NPRM after carefully considering the available options for practically regulating the safe operation of these small RPA.

The proposed changes do not apply to amateur or privately operated drones for recreational purposes. These are model aircraft and are not included in the NPRM change proposals. The NPRM proposals address the safety regulation requirements for the commercial operation of RPA.

As I mentioned previously, RPAs of less than two kilograms will indeed be regulated. Under the NPRM proposals they must be operated in accordance with the set of standard conditions which limit their operations, as I have described. If operated outside these conditions an operating certificate must be obtained from CASA. CASA takes safety regulation of RPA very seriously and is proposing regulatory changes that aim to practically manage the safety risks involved with the operation of small RPA for commercial purposes. I am happy to take any questions.

CHAIR: Thank you very much for that. I gather there are no additional comments by other members appearing before us. I will start off with a few quick questions. What has been the consultation process to date that has led to the changes that CASA has proposed? I note that you have mentioned that you talked to various industry players and different bodies. How was all of that done?

Mr Mazowita : Our general process for consulting on new regulations involves, for the majority of our proposals, the establishment of an industry and CASA project team. As Mr McCormick identified, meetings are held as required. These typically involve members of the industry with which we have regular contact. In new regulatory areas we go outside our list of usual industry groups that we deal with. We did that in this case.

The process is that the project team does its work. It considers the safety issues involved. Options are considered and proposals are developed. At times we issue discussion papers for our new regulatory proposals, where our ideas are not just sufficiently mature to put out a specific proposal. In this particular case we have published this NPRM with the input of the other Commonwealth departments, Defence and the industry. This is currently running for broader industry input and comment from the public at large for the period which ends 16 June.

If we are petitioned to extend that period, I think we invariably have provided those extensions to the industry. If the industry seeks additional opportunities to discuss issues with us, we entertain those requests and almost invariably agree to them. The next process would be to develop an NFRM, which would detail how we have disposed of the comments received from the industry. If necessary we would reconvene the CASA industry group to go over those comments and the CASA disposition and then we would issue a notice of final rule making. It is a standard consultative process.

CHAIR: With the draft that you have got, how are you seeking that feedback? Is it through publication of newspapers, through writing to organisations? And, probably more importantly, given the number of drone of users outside the 'normal' aviation industry, how are you getting through to them?

Mr Mazowita : We do it through ads in the newspapers. We do have CASA mailing lists. Our primary industry consultation body is the SCC. We typically go out and make specific postings—notifications to these groups that NPRMs have been published. On our SCC discussion forums there are eight different subcommittees. The relevant ones would be notified. The public is notified principally through the CASA website and the notification in The Australian that this NPRM has been published.

Ms CLAYDON: How many submissions or comments or feedback did you receive that came from outside the aviation industry?

Mr Mazowita : I will have to turn to Mr Coyne to answer that. To date we have had very, very few replies to the NPRM.

Mr Coyne : We have had about 14 submissions so far, all from the aviation community by and large—primarily from operators of RPASs.

Ms CLAYDON: When is the closing date?

Mr Coyne : 16 June.

Ms CLAYDON: What measures do you anticipate undertaking in order to reach the people outside of the aviation industry, given actual measures have not succeeded yet? Is there a plan B?

Mr McCormick : The working group that looked at these amendments consisted of the Australian Association for Unmanned Systems, Defence, RMIT University, Airservices Australia, Insitu Pacific, V-Tol, the Australian and International Pilots Association, the Australian Certified UAV Operators Inc, Community Safety Queensland Government, and the Australian Research Centre for Aerospace Automation. As Mr Mazowita said, apart from putting the ad in the aviation supplement in Friday's The Australian and posting on our website that we have this out for consultation, we do not particularly go out and target the other groups unless we have to—in other words, unless we are specifically required to do so, because we do not know where to stop or start. It is very difficult to understand who all the stakeholders are in these issues. We do try and get the word out as much as we can that there is an issue here. If people come to us, we will respond to them.

Ms CLAYDON: Would you be following up in areas where you have received complaints or otherwise? Perhaps there have been some breaches of existing CASA regulations or you are aware of other agencies dealing with people operating those aircraft. Do you try to target those guys?

Mr McCormick : Very much so. Yes, we are. We are conducting investigations, for instance, into the incident that occurred in Western Australia during the triathlon where a person was possibly injured by an RPA. That is currently under investigation.

CHAIR: At the start of your presentation, Mr McCormick, I believe you mentioned something about potential future proposals down the track in regard to recreational use of drones. Is that correct?

Mr McCormick : Yes. Part 101—which originated in balloons and model aircraft—still has some role and some weight to carry in that realm. We will eventually move the RPA into another rule set of 102, so that we clearly separate the model aircraft private activities from the RPA activities. We are not sufficiently advanced to be able to do that at this stage, so we feel an amendment to 101 is a more pressing need rather than go through the process of developing 102.

CHAIR: Are there any thoughts about how that 102 might end up or the timing of it, at the moment?

Mr Mazowita : Much of this will be driven by the work being undertaken by the International Civil Aviation Organization. They are in the process of developing and publishing international standards and recommended practices. Typically, we try not to get too far out ahead of ICAO. We like to keep in step with what is happening internationally and with our major trading partners. We will be fleshing out additional requirements, for the commercial application of RPAs. As Mr McCormick mentioned, we will also be revisiting our rules for model aircraft to make sure that, for example, the operating conditions and safety considerations that have to be taken into account and applied, and the offences—to the extent we need offences in the regulations—are appropriate to manage the risks. This is an iterative process. This is a new regulatory area for us, so over and above carving these operations out of 101, we have a number of other unmanned aircraft operations in our part 101 various subparts, and we will be updating those regulations at the same time.

CHAIR: Is there any ICAO information on that out there in the public space already?

Mr McCormick : Mr Coyne used to chair the ICAO committee developing this, so perhaps he is in a better position to comment. I will say one thing, though: with ICAO being a UN specialist body, the process for developing the SARP is five years minimum, and that is laid down in the timelines of consultation. I will leave it at that.

CHAIR: Is there anything that ICAO have put out there publicly in this space?

Mr Coyne : They have put some documents out in terms of guidance material. There will be a full guidance manual published early next year, which will provide guidance to all the states on how to develop their own regulations and guidance material. As Mr McCormick said, the process for developing what we call 'standards and recommended practice' is about a five- or six-year period, and we feel that people cannot wait that long for the ICAO system. So we need to get guidance out there quickly. So that is what we are hitting first.

CHAIR: I want to get a clarification on the definition of 'populous areas'. What is the distinct definition that CASA has of a populous area?

Mr Mazowita : It is a very light definition. I almost have to read it to you.

Mr PERRETT: Is that a regulation or a CASA—

Mr Mazowita : It is in the regulation. It relates to the reasonable probability of creating a risk to others. I could call it a 'principles based'-type regulation, rather than something that is all that specific. Verbatim the meaning of 'populous area' is: an area is a populous area in relation to the operation of an unmanned aircraft or rocket if the area has sufficient density of population for some aspect of the operation, or some event that might happen during the operation—in particular, a fault in or failure of the aircraft or rocket—to pose an unreasonable risk to the life, safety or property of somebody who is in the area but who is not connected with the operation.

It is very much based on the facts of the case that—

Dr STONE: Does that include livestock? It says 'property' there.

Mr Mazowita : Property? It would.

Dr STONE: That would include it? Because it is a serious issue with stampeding livestock which causes damage.

Mr Mazowita : It would.

Mr PERRETT: I have a couple of questions. We talked about hazard, and the hazard is a flight risk, really? When you talk about hazard, that is what you—

Mr McCormick : As far as the vehicle goes, hazard is the—

Mr PERRETT: Yes.

Mr Mazowita : There is also hazard to other airspace users that has to be addressed.

Mr PERRETT: Is that a process of CASA's?

Mr Mazowita : Safety of air navigation is our mandate, broadly. That includes the safety of persons and property on the ground who are not affected with the operation of the aircraft. But it is also the safety of other airspace users, to ensure that, for example, there are not going to be collisions between these RPAs and other aircraft.

Mr PERRETT: And the general public comes in through these other regulations, in terms of 'populous'?

Mr Mazowita : Persons and property on the ground, yes.

Mr PERRETT: I just want to clarify this: an RPA that is two kilograms under the current and proposed could operate in an area, subject to the regulation there, as long as it is not commercial. Is that right? The model aircraft—

Mr McCormick : Let me put the reverse of that: any RPA operated for a commercial reason—hire and reward, remuneration or anything or consideration—

Mr PERRETT: Say that definition again.

Mr McCormick : Any RPA, regardless of its weight, that is operated for a commercial purpose—

Mr PERRETT: A commercial purpose.

Mr McCormick : For hire or reward—

Mr PERRETT: And that involves a reward, does it?

Mr McCormick : Generally it is taken to involve reward, yes.

Mr PERRETT: Okay. So the World Wildlife Fund, or something like that, would not necessarily be commercial at all?

Mr McCormick : If they were operating in their own right as a private operation, and they were the operators of the RPA, they owned the equipment and they did not have to rent it from anybody or have an operator do that for them, then it would be a purely private operation, as it would be for an individual entity.

Mr PERRETT: Okay.

Mrs MARKUS: Can I just ask a follow-on question? Is the definition of 'commercial' for if people are charging? What would be the definition? I imagine there could be private individuals who could be gaining an income from the use of an RPA. At what point is it commercial?

Mr PERRETT: The real estate agent, the wedding photographer: it is not their job but it benefits their job. I assume they are going to be commercial?

Mr Mazowita : Under our regulations, the operation of these unmanned vehicles are characterised as aerial work. That is what we are dealing with. Currently, at least, you are not talking about transporting pizzas or book deliveries. We are talking about aerial-spotting photography and the like. These are the main activities right now. So when we talk about 'for hire or reward' it would be these types of commercial applications.

Mr PERRETT: A private investigator would be commercial if he or she sent it up in an area that was of the right density in terms of looking at things?

Mr Mazowita : If I could approach it from the other end of the spectrum? If it is not recreational/sport-type activity, generally you are caught by the regulatory standards that we apply. Now, there are certain places in our regulations where we refer to research and development and scientific-type things but, by and large, the recreational operations are treated as model aircraft and the commercial operations are treated as RPAs and are subject to the issue of the operator and pilot certificates above two kilos. But all RPA operations, whether they are scientific research, commercial, or private/recreational, are subject to general safety requirements in terms of reckless operation and not creating risks to other persons and property.

Mr PERRETT: Sorry to spend a bit too much time on this, but if my Cessna goes down in my suburb, CASA probably has an investigation—has a look—and if they were not maintaining the aircraft or something, there could be penalties for that, is that right? Irrespective of Joe Public who has a Cessna on their roof, who I assume can then go after the pilot—if the pilot is alive—for trespass and the like. If the private investigator—so let us say it is commercial—sends the drone up and it lands on someone's head in a populous area, can you give us an idea of the penalties that would be visited on that person?

Mr McCormick : While Mr Mazowita is looking that up, to give you an idea of the types of penalties that are involved, you may recall that some time ago a roadie for one of the travelling musicians flew an RPA into the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and that resulted in an $850 fine.

Mr PERRETT: $850—okay.

CHAIR: Is it penalty points?

Mr McCormick : Fifty penalty points.

CHAIR: Well just on top of what Graham said: if there is just a breach by someone flying it into a populated area without a crash or any incident, that is what we are really looking for. What are the penalties?

Mr Mazowita : In the general part or subpart of part 101 of the regulations, there is a series of offences related to the unsafe operation of unmanned aircraft of all types and for whatever reason. And the penalty units are 50 penalty units.

Mr PERRETT: And 50 at the moment is $850, is it?

Mr PASIN: No.

Mr Mazowita : It is more. I do not know what it is currently.

Mr PASIN: The penalty unit will be determined by the act, which prescribes value per unit. But it would be unusual for a first offender in circumstances like that to get the maximum penalty unit.

On this score, having spent a decade acting for criminals, my mind always turns to nefarious uses. In terms of the penalty framework, is there some factor for consideration—I was just speaking to Mr Sukkar and saying that with that kind of penalty range, it might well be in someone's interests to put a banner on one of these things and fly it into the MCG on grand final day as a stunt which will attract significant attention. If we are looking at what will ultimately be, even at the maximum outcome, a modest fine for that kind of publicity, there are real issues.

Mr McCormick : Yes, I do agree with you. We are looking, as I said, at a couple of instances at the moment, and we are interested to see whether they lead to prosecution. We will await the DPP's view of the evidence—

Mr PASIN: I suppose my question is: at some point will CASA look at whether the penalty framework is inadequate? That is not to apportion any blame to the courts, because they can only work inside the framework. There may be a need for CASA to make representations about that.

Mr Mazowita : Right now our act puts the ceiling on the number of penalty points—

Mr PASIN: Obviously.

Mr Mazowita : and we have been considering, for future work for amendments to the act, the possibility or likelihood of increasing the ceiling.

CHAIR: Do you think there is merit in harsher penalties, then? Is that what I am picking up?

Mr McCormick : Well, I think there is a case here that we should not use administrative law processes as a punitive measure. If there are grounds for something to attract either the criminal standard or a criminal sanction, then that should be clearly spelled out. We have not formed a view on that. At the moment, most of our procedures are related around administrative law. I think we have to be cognisant of that.

CHAIR: If there is a real estate agent, which is a case that we have talked about in the past, taking aerial photos of a house that is up for sale, I am guessing that, given that it is operating over a populous area, a drone would not be able to be used as per these new regulations. They would have to take out an operating certificate. Is that correct?

Mr McCormick : That is correct.

CHAIR: If one then goes and operates it, thinking they are able to get away with it under these standard operating conditions, how do you effectively police that?

Mr McCormick : That is extremely difficult to do. As I think I said to the other place, it is a bit like laser spots being shone at aircraft. Unless you are right there and you can see who did it or someone tells you this person did it or the police can find that person, it is extremely difficult. We look at YouTube videos and other things like that when we are made aware of them. We have, in fact, traced people back through that process. It is really very, very difficult on the private side unless we have real-time intelligence, because it is just not possible to know where these things are going to come up.

We have an education program, and we are saying very strongly that education is the way to go. We have a series of brochures that are now available at major outlets for RPAs in Australia—the smaller ones in particular. We are trying to educate people about what these things are. Because, after all, we want them to have fun flying these things, but we are trying to keep the focus where it should be—on the safety side. It is extremely difficult to tell who has done what with it.

CHAIR: Are you looking again at anything in relation to privacy protection? Is there anything there that covers that particular area.

Mr McCormick : As I think we said last time, privacy is something that is not my bailiwick. We have had other meetings about this across whole-of government approaches. As you know, the various states have different standards on what constitutes privacy, in particular from the law enforcement point of view. If you take a photograph from half a mile away, you most probably need a warrant. If you take it from five miles away, do you need a warrant? There are basic issues like that. There are issues around containment of these vehicles and possible uses, indeed possible nefarious uses. There are lots of other areas here, such as the weaponisation of them and those sort of matters, which are not strictly safety related but certainly need to be looked at in the greater context of the UAVs or RPAs. But again we are staying strictly in our safety world.

CHAIR: Do you have some sort of catch-all in the regulations that say that you have to abide by state, territory and national laws when using it, or something like that.

Mr Mazowita : There is no such statement with respect to any of our regulatory functions.

Ms CLAYDON: I want to ask a question in relation to the speed with which this technology is developing. If I am not mistaken, in June your review will have been underway for three years, which is a very long process—and you might want to discuss why that amount of time has been necessary. From your own experiences, have you seen value in some kind of continuous review process, given the rapid development of that technology? If you have other ways of being able to handle that into the future, what they might be?

Mr McCormick : I take on board those points. Up till now, it is a matter of balancing our resources against the priority targets. To be honest with you, we have had other priorities. It is only over recent times, these things have started to accelerate in their proliferation, not accelerate in speed. We do the post-implementation reviews, which I alluded to, required by the government every two to three years. But I have elevated the whole RPA approach to sit directly under my deputy director, which is about as high as I can put it in our priority list. We are actively watching this almost on a daily basis. We are doing what we can. Having said that, even if we had been in this position last year, we still would not have been able to do much with the fact that people can order very small RPAs over the internet, so they come into the country and they are operating them, and there is no requirement for anyone to tell anyone or do anything else with it.

Ms CLAYDON: Perhaps Mr Farquharson may be able to enlighten us as to how you might move from a process that is otherwise a very long and lengthy process of review, this last one being over a three-year span, to something that might be a little more responsive to changing technologies.

Mr Farquharson : I think we need to distinguish between the ongoing and perpetual review of regulations and what might force us to do something in the shorter term. The current changes that are being put in place are a function of this proliferation. We took those actions, starting earlier this year. We have looked at what has been happening in terms of technology and the safety of operations and we are revising regulation 101. The normal process of review is like painting the Sydney Harbour Bridge: when you get to the end you go back and start again. But if at any time we need to amend regulations on the basis of some emerging issue we will do that as required.

In terms of dealing with particular aspects of safety, we have had a very good response and we had a very active program of going out to the distributors and even the manufacturers of these machines. We have had a response from one Chinese manufacturer, who will put in each of his products one of these—and I have some to give to the committee now. This is looking at the distributors and somebody just wanting to start with these models. It is actually trying to catch the problem at the lowest level possible and it guides people to their responsibilities, to the things that they should be considering.

Somebody asked a question about real estate agents. We have just written to the real estate institutes around Australia and said, 'It's all very well for your commercial enterprises, but you have to do this properly.' For example, there are standard conditions that we are imposing on certified operators. They can operate over populous areas subject to a range of conditions and a risk assessment. The number of power plants on these devices ranges from four to eight. We are generally, depending on the particular circumstances, now saying that you will either have six or eight power plants and that the machine will be capable of flying to a safe landing area and not just become uncontrollable. So our regulation of these on a day-to-day basis for each particular activity is being examined much more closely and we are deriving much closer controls as to how we can facilitate the operation while at the same time taking appropriate safety measures. Does that help?

Ms CLAYDON: It does. You have an enormous task ahead. I was just thinking it is great that you have now written to the real estate institutes. You are going to have to do likewise for media outlets and commercial photographers. How you reach all of those people will be challenging, I would expect.

Mr Farquharson : We have our safety promotions team very actively engaged in trying to contact, devising ways in which we can get this message across.

Ms CLAYDON: Getting out into the non-aviation industry.

CHAIR: On the issue of photographers, and this is a hypothetical, if a wedding photographer has a licence and is using unmanned aerial systems to take photographs of a wedding from above, would they need to submit a flight plan to CASA for every single wedding they are engaged in?

Mr McCormick : Flight plans are normally submitted to Airservices Australia. They would not require a flight plan for that.

CHAIR: I am guessing that all they need is just the one operating certificate. The licence continues for how long?

Mr Farquharson : They are normally a two-year issue. It can vary. If they are operating outside the standard conditions then we will require notification of each event.

CHAIR: How long does that secure pilot certification, operational certification, take to process? How long does it take to get one of those? What cost is involved for the individual?

Mr Farquharson : We have a bit of a backlog at present—everybody wants one of these things. Provided the person is proficient and they have done the appropriate training, then they make application . What we are doing now is going to particular areas, saying that our assessment team will be in a particular place, and those people who want a pilot certificate will register with us and we will assess their operation, not in a group but we will do it in bulk, in one place. In terms of time, it depends on when we can get sufficient people in one place to do it.

Mr McCormick : There is also the issue of the complexity of the operation. Some people wish to do quite complex beings. They need to show us the risk assessment and to show us how they are going to operate, so it is virtually an operations manual type of event. Quite often we have difficulties with the lack of granularity in some of those documentations, so there is a toing and froing on that until we are satisfied that they understand the operation and we understand what they are going to do and that the risks, if any, are correctly or adequately addressed.

Mr PERRETT: Can I go back to the definition of commercial. I apologise if this was covered while I was out. The example I would give is of an animal rights group looking at a piggery or something like that. The animal rights group is a charity or a not-for-profit, but it is part of their commercial operations, shall we say, to find information about animals. Would that be commercial? I know I am asking for a legal opinion.

Mr Mazowita : We would look at 'commercial' from the perspective of the operator of the RPA. We have this right now with traditional aeroplanes. If I engage another party, if I am one of these groups and I engage somebody to do this filming for me—

Mr PERRETT: On a fee-for-service basis.

Mr Mazowita : that is clearly a commercial operation. But if I am an entity I can purchase—anybody can purchase—these things now and if I am operating on my own, for whatever purpose, that would not be considered to be a commercial operation, from my perspective.

Mr PERRETT: Whether it be to photograph dandelions or whatever?

Mr Mazowita : That is right.

Mr McCormick : We did touch on an aspect of that when we were mentioning privacy.

Mr PERRETT: Okay, I am sorry, I had to take a call.

Mr McCormick : If someone like an animal rights group applies for a certificate, even if we knew that they intended to do the sort of activity you were talking about, if they meet the requirements for the issuing of a certificate then we are obliged or I am obliged to issue them that certificate.

Mr PERRETT: Obviously the military have their own set of standard operating conditions for dealing with whatever they have. Do you liaise with the military about what is best practice? They would seem to be ahead of the civil world in this area. I know they are not bound by your guidelines.

Mr Coyne : We actually have a memorandum of agreement between CASA and Defence that Mr McCormick signed on CASA's behalf. We have regular meetings. We are aligning our regulations so we have meetings to make sure that our regulations are harmonised. The NPRM and the latest reg changes I have forwarded to Defence and they are reviewing those and amending their regulations accordingly so that they are harmonised.

Mr PERRETT: Especially with some of these commercial operators moving in, I understand the same commercial vehicle can then have a defence insignia on it and maybe even have five different countries' insignia on it at any time, depending on where they are operating.

Mr Mazowita : If I could just come back to your previous question: when the regulations were written the test was, 'Are they for sport and recreation purposes?' In the NPRM we have given additional focus to the hire or reward test, the commercial test. This terminology and how it applies to these grey areas in the middle, if I can call them that, is something I am personally interested in terms of getting operator or public comment and make sure we have the application provisions and tests right because there is that area in the middle. Whether you think on balance that that should be regulated as if it is sport and recreation or whether it is something that should be regulated as if it is a high or reward type operation, that is something we will have to assess clearly when we receive the comments and come up with our final rules.

Mr PERRETT: The Australian has a certain role in Australian society in terms of public notices, but obviously many of these operators are in a different area and we are drifting into generation Y. I do not think anyone under 25 has bought The Australian for a few years. Is there a way to get to them before 16 June—the internet, Facebook, blogs and things like that?

Mr Farquharson : You are absolutely right. We are spending a considerable amount of time not only in relation to these activities but in our general communications activities on how we can reach specific stakeholder groups throughout not only the industry but the broader aviation community. We have stepped into the newer communications medium. We have our own Twitter account and we are investigating other mechanisms by which we can pull people into specific topic areas on our website.

Mr PERRETT: It would be a good idea to have this in the AppleSphere, wouldn't it? That would be a start.

Mr McCormick : We do have YouTube videos and that sort of thing.

CHAIR: When we first had a discussion with CASA I think you mentioned that about 70 licences had been taken out in this area. Do you have an idea of how many there are now?

Mr Farquharson : As of Monday, there were 109 certified and 43 in the queue.

CHAIR: There being no further questions from committee members, thank you very much for appearing.

Resolved that these proceedings be published.

Committee adjourned at 10:24