Drones are everywhere, you can buy them in all sorts of retail outlets and of course specialty drone stores. But the biggest problem with this booming industry are novice pilots who don’t know the basic rules of where to fly.

Too often I’ve witnessed with my own eyes the lunacy of some who fly their drones in all manner of places that are clearly in breach of the strict Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) regulations, but – in their defense, not detailed in the basic information handed to new drone owners.

When you buy a drone you are told these simple things:

  • You should only fly in visual line-of-sight of your drone – so you can’t wear goggles showing video from the drone.
  • You must not fly closer than 30 metres to vehicles, boats, buildings or people.
  • You must not fly over populous areas such as beaches, heavily populated parks, or sports ovals while they are in use.
  • In controlled airspace, which covers most Australian cities, you must not fly higher than 120 metres (400 feet) above the ground.
  • You must not fly in a way that creates a hazard to other aircraft, so you should keep at least 5.5 km away from airfields, aerodromes and helicopter landing sites

That’s a really great set of five things to know.

The biggest problem is that last point.

There are Helicopter landing sites all over the place, and some you probably don’t even know about. 5.5km radius around every helipad would rule out most major areas for drone flight.

So CASA sought to qualify that last point recently with this advisory diagram.

In addition, a similar update for small airfields

And with that, plus the knowledge that this industry is going to keep on growing, CASA has also announced it will release a new app for pilots in the months ahead.

LISTEN: CASA’s Peter Gibson talks to Trevor Long on Talking Technology:

Developed by the company behind one of the current popular apps Drone Compiler. Their current app has detailed maps of airports, restricted airspace and helipads across Australia.

CASA went to tender last year to have someone develop a basic no-fly app for them, and while they received several tender responses, the team behind Drone Compiler offered to do it basically for free. Win Win for taxpayers I say.

The new app will be a basic version of the Drone Compiler app, simply showing if it’s OK to fly where you are, and advising any warnings.

Having looked at their current app it’s outstanding to see so much detail – and how many people are guilty of flying off the headland looking back at Bondi Beach? Illegal.

North Head. Illegal.

Who knew! It’s not covered in those five dot points.

So now with this new app, new owners and current drone pilots can have more information to make decisions about where to fly.