Australian businesses are being warned to immediately register any commercial drones or risk incurring a hefty penalty.
From Jan. 28, operators of commercial or non-recreational drones who have failed to register their drones with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority face fines of up to $11,100.
Public liability insurance could also become void as operating an unregistered commercial drone will be illegal, CASA warns.
Recreational drones which are flown just for fun or sport are not currently required to be registered.
Drones can be registered for free on the CASA website until June 30 and the registration will remain valid for 12 months.
It’s understood a registration fee that will apply after that date has not yet been set by the federal government but is likely to be more than $100.
People flying commercial and non-recreational drones must also hold a drone pilot licence or accreditation from CASA.
CASA spokesperson Peter Gibson said anyone using the services of a commercial drone operator should check all relevant documentation.
“By making these checks you are establishing if the operator understands and respects safety,” Gibson said.
“This is crucial because things can and do go wrong when flying drones and they have hurt people and damaged property.”
The Australian Association for Unmanned Systems has expressed concern about the plans to eventually impose registration costs which could have a “serious impact on the viability of the sector”.
“CASA has previously indicated that the cost to register commercial drones would be based on a flat fee model of approximately $100 – $160 per drone per annum,” AAUS said in a submission to a Senate committee last year.
“This flat fee cost recovery model has the potential to be unfair to operators that operate many small drones for modest revenue compared to an operator that operates a low quantity of large drones for high revenue.
“AAUS believes that there are fairer systems that could be explored.”