“As a video producer, it's reassuring to know that our aerial team are professional, reliable, safe, and genuinely nice guys to have on set.”

- Ben Fleming, Director, Colorblind Films

Courses Available


Remote Pilot Course PLUS       5 Days       $3,500 + GST

This course includes the standard CASA course that will give you a Remote Pilot License (RePL). It includes 4 days of study and then flight tests, an exam and flight planning exercises on the final day. There is some individual flying instruction available during the course. You will also qualify for the Air Radio Operator’s Certificate (AROC).

Also included is our PLUS module. The PLUS module includes information on real-world subjects such as privacy issues; insurance; dealing with councils, landholders & the public; and aerial cinematography – what works or doesn’t.

Remote Pilot Course PLUS (home study)       2 Days       $2,500 + GST

This course is identical to the 5 day course, except that you receive the course material in advance and will be expected to have studied the 150 page RePL book and the 30 page AROC book before the course starts. Day one is taken up with further clarification of the course material, especially relating to charts, air law, and risk management. Day two is the same as the last day of the 5 day course with the exam, flight tests and flight planning exercises. There is no individual flying instruction available during the course, but individual sessions can be arranged separately.

Conversion for ATPL, CPL, PPL, RPL Holders       Private session       $800 + GST

This conversion is for holders of any of the above pilot’s licenses who want to fly drones. It operates on a 1 to 1 basis and can be undertaken at any time by appointment with Above Oz. The conversion gives you a Remote Pilot License (RePL).

Under 2kg Commercial RPA Course       1 Day       $800 + GST

This course includes a modified and condensed version of the Remote Pilot Course where you learn about Charts, Air Law, Risk Management, Drone Knowledge and much more. However, the subject matter focuses on the “very small” category of excluded drones(under 2kg). It is important to note that this course will not get you a license from CASA. It is aimed at people who want to fly unlicensed for commercial gain using drones lighter than 2kg, such as the Phantom or Mavic. While you will not need a license to fly these drones, you still need a solid knowledge of the regulations to avoid fines of up to $9,000 or even jail up to 2 years in extreme cases. CASA highly recommend doing a course such as this as ignorance of the law is no excuse in aviation. The course is popular with companies who see the need for “duty of care” responsibilities to be fulfilled for their staff who wish to fly commercially.

Remotely Piloted Aircraft Operator’s Certificate (ReOC)

If you have been considering studying for your Remote Pilot License, you will know that on receiving your license, you will need to either get a ReOC from CASA, or fly for someone who has one.  There is no course involved in obtaining a ReOC, you deal directly with either CASA, or a CASA Delegate for this. While we are not currently CASA delegates, we do offer free guidance and assistance if required to help our students through this process. Cost for students wanting to get a ReOC is normally between $1,100 and $1,500, payable to either CASA or the Delegate.

So, you can now be fully licensed and have an ReOC for less than $4,000!



What is the difference between a drone, a UAV, an RPA and an RPAS?
There is not much difference in practise between all of these terms. The general public generally use the term drone. A UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) is a slightly older term that was favoured by the industry, but is now legally obsolete. CASA and the global industry is transitioning to the term RPA (Remotely Piloted Aircraft) as it more accurately describes the fact that there is a pilot somewhere controlling the aircraft. The term RPAS, (Remotely Piloted Aircraft System) describes the aircraft and includes the ground based remote control system as well. We will use the term drone in this FAQ because it is the most familiar term for people new to the industry.

Can I fly a drone without a License?
Yes under certain limitations.

  1. You can fly some of the smaller classes of drones for your own fun and recreation, or for gaining experience to eventually apply for a license.
  2. You can fly commercially using drones under 2kg, but there are many restrictions on this activity
  3. All flying must be within the Standard Operating Conditions (SOC) as listed below
  4. There are some special exemptions for farmers flying over their own properties

What are the Standard Operating Conditions (SOC) for non commercial or commercial flying without a RePL?

  1. You must fly below 400 ft above ground level at all times.
  2. You must be able to visually see the drone at all times.
  3. You must not fly at night.
  4. You must not fly within 3 nautical miles (about 5.5km) of a controlled aerodrome.
  5. You must not fly closer than 30m to any person who is not a direct member of your flying crew.
  6. You must not fly over built-up areas such as homes, businesses, schools etc.
  7. You must not fly over crowds or busy areas such as sporting grounds where a game is being played, or roads with traffic.
  8. You must not fly near any public safety operation such as a bush fire or car crash without the approval of the person in charge.
  9. You must not fly in Restricted or Prohibited areas


What is CASA?

Casa is the Civil Aviation Safety Authority. This is the federal government body with responsibility for the safety of civilian aircraft in Australia. They make and police all the rules that you will need to follow. They issue all the Certificates you may need for commercial flying and can also take Certificates away or issue very large fines.

What qualifications are available if I want to fly commercially?
There are two types of qualification in the drone industry. The pilot must be licensed (just like a Qantas pilot for example) and the organisation he/she flies for must be licensed (like Qantas itself). An individual person can be both a pilot and a licensed organisation.

  1. Pilots must hold a Remote Pilot License (RePL).
  2. Organisations must hold an Remotely Piloted Aircraft Operator’s Certificate (ReOC).

The Remote Pilot License qualification was introduced in September 2016 and may eventually have some level of international recognition.

You can also fly commercially without a license, but only with drones under 2kg. There are many restrictions involved, see above. There are some exemptions available for farmers.

How do I get a Remote Pilot License?
Above Oz is authorised to teach and examine candidates for a Remote Pilot License. Students who pass this course are then referred to CASA for the granting of a Remote Pilot License. This is normally just a formality, but is subject to identity confirmation and other verification checks.

11What is taught in the Remote Pilot Course PLUS at Above Oz?
The Remote Pilot course follows a syllabus created by CASA. Areas covered include aerodynamics, multi rotor flight, navigation, air law, meteorology, risk, and RPA Knowledge. The PLUS module covers non-CASA topics such as privacy issues; insurance – what do you need; dealing with councils, landholders & the public; and aerial cinematography – what works or doesn’t.

It is also a course in practical, safe flying. It is not essential to have any flying experience before starting, but it will be an advantage if you do have even some limited flying hours, as it a requirement to have 5 hours of experience to be granted a license. However, it is possible to do the course first and build up your hours at your own pace after completing the course. This does require you to return at a later date to do your Flight Test however.

The course is appropriate for pilots who wish to undertake any type of professional work with a drone, such as photography, mapping, surveillance, research, environmental, inspection, emergency services etc.

There is a multi-choice examination at the end of the course. There is also a Flight Test to examine your safe flying ability.

This course is for Multi Rotor craft less than 25kg. However, if you intend to fly a drone exceeding 7kg, contact Above Oz to discuss the flight test procedure.

The course also includes tuition in Air Radio Operation, which is then examined in a separate examination. Passing this exam will give you an Air Radio Operator’s Certificate (AROC).  There are also some other requirements that must be satisfied regarding the ability to speak the English language to a suitable level, the ELP.

What will it all cost and how long does it take?
Remote Pilot Course PLUS
The cost for this course is $3,500 + GST. This includes tuition fees, the Above Oz Workbook, CASA license fees, AROC workbook, & AROC (air radio) examination fees . The ELP (English Language Proficiency) examination is conducted by an external body and the fee of $107 must be paid by the student at the time of booking. The course is 5 days full time, normally run in one week.

The identical course is also offered as a 2 day course with advance home study. This is $2,500 + GST

A one day course for pilots wanting to fly “very small” drones under 2kg is available for $800 + GST

Please contact us if you want to be informed of upcoming courses, or to discuss your individual needs with regard to timing.

Conversion for ATPL, CPL, PPL & RPL Holders
The cost for this course is $800 + GST. This includes the Above Oz Workbook, theory examination and flight test. The CASA license fee of $40 must be paid by the student.

The multiple choice examination and flight test can be undertaken at any time by appointment with Above Oz.

When do I need to pay?

Payment is required before commencement of the course and your position in the course is not guaranteed until full payment has been made. For example, if maximum numbers are reached with fully paid students then you will need to wait until the next course.

Can I withdraw from, or postpone a course?

Due to small class numbers, withdrawal from, or postponement of our courses with a refund or transfer of course fee, is at the discretion of Above Oz. Individual circumstances and the timing of request will be considered when making this decision.

Where are the courses run?
Above Oz premises are at 26 Clarke Street, Norwood, South Australia, and most courses will be run at our office with flight training and testing carried out at other suitable venues. This may vary from time to time depending on availability.

What is Above Oz, and who are the lecturers?
Above Oz is a sister organisation to Picture Hire Australia. Picture Hire Australia is a hire company providing cameras and production equipment to the film and television industry. Our aerial activities grew from demand from clients to provide aerial solutions for many production activities including TV programs, TV ads, corporate videos, weddings, real estate and many other types of work. Picture Hire Australia has been in operation for over a decade and is recognised as the leader in its category in South Australia. Both Businesses are owned by Dai and Dagmar Cookes.

Above Oz holds an Remotely Piloted Aircraft Operator’s Certificate (ReOC), and all lecturers hold a minimum of a Remote Pilot License (RePL). Lecturers are drawn from both the film and manned aviation industries.

Will my lecturers be my competition when I become a pilot?
While some Flight Schools emphasize that their staff are not working professional drone pilots and therefore will not be competition for you when you enter the work force, we believe this is a misguided policy. We prefer that our lecturers are currently working in the field. This leads to a better understanding of the day to day concerns of professional work and keeps them current with trends in the industry. As a professional pilot, you will need a network of friends and associates in the industry, and our staff can be the beginning of that. Naturally, with years of experience in the film world, we are totally aware of the ethical issues of not “stealing” clients, and in fact we have become a major source of work for our clients.

3How do I get an Operator’s Certificate?
Be aware that this course does not give you an Remotely Piloted Aircraft Operator’s Certificate (ReOC). To fly drones larger than 2kg commercially you will still need to find a ReOC holder to fly for, or obtain a ReOC yourself. This will cost you around $1,200 – $1,500. There is no course for this, just an application (based on a template provided by CASA), and a payment to CASA. Above Oz can assist you with this process if required (at further cost). ReOC’s are also available from CASA Delegates, who are private individuals licensed to undertake this work on CASA’s behalf. This can be a faster and cheaper process than applying through CASA.

You will also need to arrange Aviation Public Liability Insurance to cover your flying activities.

What are the advantages of having a Remote Pilot Certificate?
There are many advantages to having a Remote Pilot License. Here are some:

  1. You can apply to CASA to fly in areas beyond the Standard Operating Conditions.
  2. You can gain permission to fly within 5.5km of controlled aerodromes
  3. You can gain permission to fly within 15m of people. (without a license it is 30m)
  4. You can gain permission to fly at night.
  5. You can gain permission to fly Beyond Visual Line of Sight
  6. You can use a radio to talk to other aircraft or Air Traffic Control.
  7. You can obtain full Aviation Public Liability insurance.
  8. Most larger companies and government will not employ you without full licensing.
  9. You can fly more safely with better knowledge of the industry.
  10. You can fly larger drones up to 25kg, commercially
  11. You are at lower risk of being fined for illegal flying

Are there any pre-requisites that I need to fulfil before I start the course?
You will need to:

  1. Have 5 hours of logged flying time before your license can be issued, but you can do the course prior to this.
  2. Own or have access to a suitable drone.
  3. Own or have access to a suitable air radio.
  4. Get an Aviation Reference Number (ARN) from CASA (free)
  5. Speak English well enough to pass English Language Proficiency test
  6. Have adequate eyesight for Visual Line Of Sight (VLOS) flying
  7. Be 18 years or older, or have a parent/guardian willing to sign contracts for you.

We will assist you in satisfying all of these requirements.

Is the course and exam hard?
No. If you want to become qualified, and pay attention in the classes, you should easily pass the course. The course is designed to help you get a qualification, not to see how many we can fail. We would expect almost every student to pass, and we will assist you in any way we can to achieve your goals. If you do not pass the exam or flight test at the first attempt, you can attempt to pass at a later date at no additional cost at an individually arranged time.

As we are bound by law to only pass people who are deemed safe, we cannot guarantee everyone will gain the qualification. However, our aim is a 100% pass record.

Will I gain employment after finishing this course?
This is a new and rapidly changing industry, so predicting employment opportunities is realistically impossible. We would warn that competition for work is likely to be high. However, with the right personal skills and motivation, this qualification could lead to an exciting and interesting job, especially if combined with other existing skills such as agriculture, mining, photography, surveying etc etc. The only thing that can be guaranteed is that you will find it very difficult to develop a professional career in remote flying without this qualification.

If you have any further questions, please contact us.