Drone Operation and Management

Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPASs) or Drone Operation and Management at UNSW
 
Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPASs; in short drones) are being utilised in UNSW for diverse applications such as aerial mapping, remote sensing, construction monitoring, infrastructure inspections, environmental assessment, film making, aerial photographing and wildlife research, to name a few. Drone operations in the Australian airspace is regulated by the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) according to Commonwealth legislation.
 
Depending on the nature of the operation, piloting a drone for UNSW purposes may be seen as a commercial activity by CASA. Accordingly, UNSW holds a Remotely Piloted Aircraft Operator’s Certificate (ReOC; ARN: 553086) overseen by the CASA-certified Chief Controller and Maintenance Controller, Dr Yincai Zhou, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Policy and administrative support are provided by Research Ethics & Compliance Support Unit. Drone use at UNSW is outlined in the Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems Procedure.
 
Piloting drones >2kg or drones <2kg but outside CASA-specified standard operating conditions (SOCs) requires a CASA issued remote pilot license (RePL) and ReOC. Operating drones <2kg under CASA's standard operating conditions (SOCs) is excluded from the above requirements. For all drone operations, pilots are required to contact the Research Ethics & Compliance Support Unit (drones@unsw.edu.au) to register pilot's details and drone information for insurance and CASA registration purposes prior to drone operation. 
 
Note that the UNSW Kensington campus lies within the 5.5km from Sydney airport boundary and therefore, drone operations on campus may require written approval by CASA (via the Form 101-09 Application for RPA Flight Authorization). However, some drone operations using a micro-RPA (<250g) are permitted in areas away from flight paths without requiring approval from CASA. If you are intending to operate a drone on UNSW campus, please contact RECS (drones@unsw.edu.au) for advice. External licensed operators are required to apply under their own licence and are to inform RECS (drones@unsw.edu.auprior to operating a drone on campus. 

 

Drone management software - AVCRM

UNSW has subscribed to the drone management software, AVCRM, to manage all its drone operations. If you are intending to operate a drone for a UNSW purpose, you are required to use this software for all aspects of drone management, including but not limited to:

  • Job creation, planning and approval
  • Logging your flight plan
  • Pilot and RPA logbooks
  • Drone operation risk assessments
  • Job safety assessments
  • Defect management
  • Submitting drone maintenance requests
  • Battery management
  • Booking scheduler

AVCRM is the central storage location for flight and maintenance logs, RPA operation and management related documents such as UNSW ReOC, Operations Manual and Library and other support materials (e.g. guidelines for safe RPA operations and aviation regulation compliance).

There are several helpful demonstration videos within AVCRM to assist drone users in navigating through the system and to perform the above functions. These can be accessed by selecting 'video help' in the top right-hand corner of the screen once logged in.

To access AVCRM for UNSW, please click the following link: https://unsw.rpa.avcrm.net/login

Please note that as of October 2020, CASA have implemented important changes to record keeping relating to drone operation. These requirements are detailed in Chapter 10 of the Part 101 Manual of Standards (MOS). Notably, information relating to drone logs, remote pilot log and technical logs for example must be kept in an electronic and unalterable state, for a period of no less than 7 years and be produced upon written request. AVCRM will assist drone users in meeting this requirement, however drone users are responsible for periodically downloading their data from AVCRM and saving a copy for their records.

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Flying drones under 2kg within standard operation conditions*

Also referred to as “excluded operations”.    *Definition of Standard Operation Conditions (SOC) can be found here.

Before flying, you must complete the following requirements:

  1. Obtain your own Aviation Reference Number (ARN)
  2. Successfully complete CASA accreditation course via myCASA portal
  3. Email RECS (drones@unsw.edu.au) and provide the following prior to drone operation:
    • A copy of the CASA accreditation certificate of completion
    • Provide a copy of the ARN 
    • If the drone is owned by UNSW, provide the following drone details which will be sent to UNSW insurance and used to register the drone under the UNSW ARN:
      • Controller (pilot) name
      • Manufacturer (make and model)
      • Serial Number (MSN number)
      • Maximum take-off mass (kg)
      • Aircraft type (e.g. aeroplane/ multi-rotor helicopter/ power lift/ single-rotor helicopter/ airship)
      • Condition (e.g. new/ good)
      • Year of manufacture
      • Drone purchase price (AUD)
  4. Once the above has been completed, RECS will create a profile for you within the online drone management system, AVCRM. All drone operations must be submitted and managed within AVCRM.
  5. For all drone operations, you will be required to complete a Risk Assessment. AVCRM includes a 'standard operation' risk assessment template for the pilot to review. However, the pilot in command is responsible for identifying within AVCRM any additional risks or hazards related to the intended drone operation. Drone users should contact UNSW Health and Safety to complete a separate assessment for drone operations relating to people risk (as may be required).

Please do not register the drone yourself, this must be done by the RECS unit (drones@unsw.edu.au) as per the process above.

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All other operations

This includes flying drones under 2kg but not within SOCs, or drones heavier than 2kg.

Before flying, you must complete the following requirements:

  1. Obtain your own Aviation Reference Number (ARN)
  2. Obtain Remote Pilot Licence (RePL) 
  3. Email RECS (drones@unsw.edu.au) and provide the following prior to drone operation:
    • Details of the RePL and ARN
    • If the drone is owned by UNSW, provide the following drone details which will be sent to UNSW insurance and used to register the drone under the UNSW ARN:
      • Controller (pilot) name
      • Manufacturer (make and model)
      • Serial Number (MSN number)
      • Maximum take-off mass (kg)
      • Aircraft type (e.g. aeroplane/ multi-rotor helicopter/ power lift/ single-rotor helicopter/ airship)
      • Condition (e.g. new/ good)
      • Year of manufacture
      • Drone purchase price (AUD) 
  4. Once the above has been completed, RECS will create a profile for you within the online drone management system, AVCRM. All drone operations (including job safety assessments and maintenance logs) must be submitted and managed within AVCRM.
  5. For all drone operations, you will be required to complete a Risk Assessment. AVCRM includes a 'standard operation' risk assessment template for the pilot to review. However, the pilot in command is responsible for identifying within AVCRM any additional risks or hazards related to the intended drone operation. Drone users should contact UNSW Health and Safety to complete a separate assessment for drone operations relating to people risk (as may be required).
  6. Contact the UNSW Chief Remote Pilot and Maintenance Controller, Dr Yincai Zhou (drones@unsw.edu.au) for a competency assessment and authorisation prior to drone operations.

Please do not register the drone yourself, this must be done by the RECS unit (drones@unsw.edu.au) as per the process above.

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Legislation and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA)

The operation of drones in Australian airspace is regulated by the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 1998Additional CASA information on drone operations and licence requirements can be found here.

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Contacts

Enquiries related to controller certification or drone operations should be made by contacting drones@unsw.edu.au

Dr Ted Rohr M: 0417 844 054

Ms Sam Husakovic T: 02 9065 8520

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Complaints, allegations of non-compliance and grievances

UNSW has established a complaints, allegations of non-compliance and grievances framework for UNSW staff, students and persons external to the University to ensure transparency and oversight of research aligned with RECS portfolios. 

Complaints and allegations of non-compliance about the conduct of research by UNSW staff, students and visitors involving Remotely Piloted Aircrafts (RPAs), are to be reported to the Director of Research Ethics & Compliance Support (RECS), Dr Ted Rohr (ted.rohr@unsw.edu.au). Where deemed appropriate, matters may be referred to the UNSW Conduct & Integrity Office.

Grievances about processes for RPA operations by UNSW staff and students should be addressed directly to the Director RECS to be assessed against institutional and legislative frameworks. 

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