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Remote Pilot | Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between a drone, RPA, RPAS, UAS, UAV and unmanned aircraft?

These all basically mean the same thing. Drone is the term the general public knows and understands.

RPAS, or remotely piloted aircraft systems, is the official term for drones that has been adopted by CASA and used in Australia’s aviation legislation. RPAS includes the remotely piloted aircraft (RPA), remote pilot station, command and control data-link, and launch and retrieval systems.

UAS (unmanned aerial systems) and UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) are also other terms used to describe RPA/drones. UAV was a common term used before the legislation changes in 2016. The term ‘unmanned aircraft’ refers to any pilotless aircraft, and in Australia’s legislation includes RPAS, free flight balloons and rockets.

What is an RePL?

RePL is what individual RPA pilots need to have to operate drones commercially while working for the ReOC holder. If you intend to work for a company that operates RPA, all you need is an RePL.

What is an ReOC?

ReOC (RPA Operators Certificate) is the certification a business (including sole trader) or organisation requires. If you want to set up your own drone business, you will require an ReOC (for the business) and an RePL (for you – the pilot).

Aviation Australia with Remote Aviation Australia offers free consulting to any of our students wanting to apply to CASA for an ReOC.

What is an AROC and do I need one?

An AROC is an aeronautical radio operators certificate. It is the qualification aviation professionals need to make aeronautical radio calls.

Obtaining your AROC is vital for any RPA operator serious about their career. For example, if an RePL holder does not have, as a minimum, an AROC, they cannot fly within 3nm of the movement area of the controlled aerodrome, no matter the height of the RPA.

You will also be restricted if you want to fly an RPA 2kg or heavier for commercial purposes at any height in controlled airspace (even if the rules normally allow you to fly below 400 feet in controlled airspace). Restrictions like this will limit the jobs you can complete and make you uncompetitive as an RPA pilot.

Do I need any previous experience?

No. Previous drone/RPAS flying experience is not required to undertake our course. Approximately 50% of our course participants have never flown a drone before – we’re very used to assisting inexperienced people on our courses (we’ll take good care of you!).

Why should I train with Aviation Australia and Remote Aviation Australia?

• Expert advice – our instructors are industry leaders with thousands of hours of flying manned and unmanned aircraft.
• Flexible training options – because everyone learns differently and not everyone can attend a full-time training course.
• Excellent value training – everything you need to become certified at a very competitive price. Flexible payment options are also available.

What is the Certificate III in Aviation (Remote Pilot – Visual Line of Sight)?

This course has been developed in partnership with Remote Aviation Australia and designed in line with the competencies developed by the Industry Skills Council. It is the highest qualification available for those wishing to enter the unmanned industry and begin operating drones for business purposes.

In addition to the Certificate III in Aviation (Remote Pilot) vocational qualification, course participants will graduate with Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) industry licences – the Remote Pilot Licence (RePL) and Aeronautical Radio Operator’s Certificate (AROC).

What is the advantage of the Certificate III training?

This training provides extra flying that places the student in a number of workplace scenarios that go far beyond normal RePL training.

These scenarios will allow students to experience real-life job tasks under the guidance of our experienced unmanned pilots. The scenarios will take the student from initial flight and risk management planning, through to flying the task, and reviewing the quality of their work after landing.

We also introduce aerial photography and mapping techniques, which isn’t covered in a normal remote pilot course. There is also a strong focus on developing our student’s non-technical skills, such as communication, teamwork, decision making and situational awareness.

Do I need the Certificate III to work in the industry?

No, the minimum qualification to work as a certified remote pilot is the Remote Pilot Licence (RePL). However, our Certificate III training provides extra flying that places students in workplace scenarios that go far beyond normal RePL training.

Our course goal is for graduates to be “job ready”. Students will obtain the necessary CASA industry licences, and through vocational training develop the skills, knowledge and attitudes to succeed in the unmanned aviation industry.

Does Aviation Australia issue the Certificate III qualification?

Yes, Aviation Australia will issue the Certificate III, and Remote Aviation will issue the RePL and AROC through CASA.

Another training provider says their RePL course will let me fly at night. Is this true?

Yes and no. All RePL training courses will provide you with the initial qualification to fly at night. However, you must also work for an ReOC holder that has been approved, under CASA exemption 103/16, to fly at night.

Therefore, an RePL course does not provide the pilot with the qualification to fly at night – the ReOC holder must train and assess its employees to do this.

Another school claims online theory training won’t prepare me properly. Is this true?

No, we have worked hard to develop a number of video-based lectures and tools to ensure you don’t miss out on any information you would have received in the classroom.

After you enrol, you’ll receive a textbook, work book and aeronautical chart. We have a 100% pass rate with our online theory students.

What is the minimum age for an RePL?

The theoretical content is aimed at a level of knowledge and comprehension of a person that has completed year 10. The minimum age we will accept on a course is 15.

Any person aged under 18 will also require the permission from a parent or guardian to attend. Parents or guardians are welcome to stay and monitor their child’s progress during our training courses.

I am an existing manned aviation pilot (or air traffic controller). Do I need to complete the full RPAS course to obtain my RePL?

If you have a Recreational Pilots Licence, all you need to do is complete practical RPA flying training and log five hours flying experience. Then send Form 101-01 off to CASA to process and they will issue you a remote pilot licence.

Aviation Australia and Remote Aviation Australia can complete your operational training using multirotor RPA. We also give you access to our online theory course.

What are your flexible payment options?

You have the option to pay a deposit (usually 50%) to secure your enrolment. Another payment installment is required just prior to training.

You do not need to pay the remainder of the course fee until after you have completed your training however we cannot process your RePL application to CASA until we have received the remainder of your course payment.

What do I need to complete online training?

All you need is a connection to the internet and speakers. Please ensure you are connected to a suitable data source and your computer has speakers/headphones.

Is it true I can operate for commercial gain without certification (i.e. the sub-2kg rules)?

Yes, you can but you need to stick to strict guidelines and can’t fly anything that weighs 2kg or more.

I’ve been told I need to pass the Private Pilots License (PPL) exam to get my drone licence. Is this true?

No. This was a very old requirement before CASA started approving RPAS training schools.

Some websites say there is an Unrestricted and Restricted Licence. Is this still the case?

No. When you complete your training you will receive an RePL that is endorsed with either “multirotor <7kg” or “aeroplane <7kg”, depending on the category of RPA you flew during training.

What should I bring with me to the course?

We will provide you with a full set of course notes. However, please bring a pen and notepad and food to eat throughout the day. For the practical flying days, please bring food, water and sun protection.

A fridge and microwave is not always available so please bring food that doesn’t require heating and bring a small cooler bag if your food must be kept cool.

Can I bring my own drone to the course?

You cannot fly your own drone during the training however you may bring your own drone for practice when not flying one of our aircraft. In this case, your drone will not be covered by our insurance and the flying must not interrupt other course participants.

You may also bring your own drone if you have questions about it for our instructors.