Drone operators warned by CASA after Thomas Foods fire in Murray Bridge

The airspace above an emergency should be reserved for emergency services, says CASA. Photo: Peri Strathearn.
The airspace above an emergency should be reserved for emergency services, says CASA. Photo: Peri Strathearn.

Drone photos and video look great, but they can easily get you in trouble, says a commercial operator.

Jase Wuttke opted not to put his drone in the air near the Thomas Foods fire, as he knew Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) rules prohibited their use above an emergency scene without prior permission and a license.

Even flying within 5.5 kilometres of a hospital helipad such as Murray Bridge's could be a problem if a helicopter were on its way, he said.

"Some people just aren't aware – people who get drones out of a box and put the paperwork aside because they just want to charge their batteries and go," he said.

"People believe once they go into JB Hi-Fi they've got a right to fly.

"It's not a right, it's a privilege."

He suggested anyone flying illegally was undermining the business into which he had invested more than $100,000, and others like it.

Under the national regulations, last updated in October, drone pilots may not fly:

  • At night or beyond their line of sight
  • Higher than 120 metres
  • Within 30 metres of other people
  • Above people, including at parks, events or sporting ovals
  • Within 5.5 kilometres of an airfield

Mr Wuttke advised all drone pilots to download CASA's app: Can I Fly There?

Fines of more than $10,000 may apply if a pilot is found guilty of an offence.

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