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.
- Pilots must hold a Remote Pilot License (RePL).
- 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.
What 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.
How 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:
- You can apply to CASA to fly in areas beyond the Standard Operating Conditions.
- You can gain permission to fly within 5.5km of controlled aerodromes
- You can gain permission to fly within 15m of people. (without a license it is 30m)
- You can gain permission to fly at night.
- You can gain permission to fly Beyond Visual Line of Sight
- You can use a radio to talk to other aircraft or Air Traffic Control.
- You can obtain full Aviation Public Liability insurance.
- Most larger companies and government will not employ you without full licensing.
- You can fly more safely with better knowledge of the industry.
- You can fly larger drones up to 25kg, commercially
- 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:
- Have 5 hours of logged flying time before your license can be issued, but you can do the course prior to this.
- Own or have access to a suitable drone.
- Own or have access to a suitable air radio.
- Get an Aviation Reference Number (ARN) from CASA (free)
- Speak English well enough to pass English Language Proficiency test
- Have adequate eyesight for Visual Line Of Sight (VLOS) flying
- 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.