Australian drone licence scheme delayed

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The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has delayed the roll out of a nationwide drone registration scheme, with recreational users not expected to need to register for the scheme until mid to late 2020. 

Peter Gibson, Manager Corporate Communications at CASA, said the initial rollout will begin later this year.

"Commercial operators [will be] first [to register], then recreational," he said. "Recreational users are likely to start in mid to late 2020."

Reports in March suggested drone registration for recreational users is expected to cost $20 a year for recreational drones, while commercial drone users will be charged anywhere from $100 to $160. 

According to the CASA website, commercial and recreational users will need to also complete an online training course, with Gibson confirming users will need to supply the serial number of any drones in their possession to the Authority as part of registration. 

Speaking to 7 News earlier this month, Gibson said the changes are part of a shift towards safer skies.

"We're going to be toughening up the drone safety rules," he said.

This is expected to include a national database of drones, and increased monitoring, with major events including Sydney's Vivid festival already being monitored by CASA with technology that can detect a drone from the signal between the controller and drone. 

"In some instances this technology can show the location of both the drone and the controller, and in some cases the serial number of the drone as well," Gibson said.

A combination of covert and publicly notified monitoring will be conducted by the Authority, with users caught flying illegally expected to be fined around $1,000, although no fines have been issued yet.

Gibson said it is yet to be determined what other penalties non-registered drones and pilots may face when the laws come into force next year, or how long the amnesty period for registration is expected to be. 

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