Civic Legal, the Western Australia Ally Law member, has written an article setting out the issues local governments – in any country — should consider in determining whether to use drones or other types of remotely piloted aircrafts (RPAs) in their operations. Drones have become a tool for some Australian governmental units, increasing efficiencies within their operations in such areas as disaster management, road surveying, mapping, pest and plant management, and law enforcement. Due to the growing popularity and use of drone technology, last year Western Australian authorities began to seriously discuss the regulation of drone use both within and outside of the local government sector. Three key considerations are for any entity analyzing the deployment of RPAs in their operations are:
1.What is the legislative and regulatory framework that applies to the use of drones?
2.Who is responsible for administering and enforcing these laws?
3.What are the risks for local governments if their use of drones is not appropriately managed?
In Western Australia, the legislative framework regulating the use of drones includes the Civil Aviation Act 1988 and the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 1998 (CASR). The CASR sets forth definitions and classifications governing the various types of RPAs and licensure requirements, as well as guidelines about the major safety risks associated with flying RPAs over areas affected by emergency situations. Further, certain national acts have reporting requirements relating to incidents and accidents in connections with RPA use.
Local governments that adhere to the requirements of CASR, and the operating conditions that apply, may still be liable for any damage or harm caused to individuals or property as a result of their drone operations. In addition, the potential exposure of local governments to liability for trespass, nuisance or breaches of privacy as a result of their drone activities has yet to be thoroughly tested and settled through the courts; thus, local governments entering into the airspace over private land should comply with powers of entry laws as if they were entering the land itself.
These and other considerations apply to drone use globally and many jurisdictions are already establishing specific RPA guidelines and regulations. Meet with your Ally Law member firm to discuss what laws govern your entity’s use of drones and RPAs. For more information about our services in this area, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.