Australia’s drone industry is undergoing rapid transformation, with advancing technology finding innovative applications across various sectors.
This presents a compelling opportunity for individuals interested in obtaining a drone licence, as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) become increasingly ubiquitous.
This comprehensive guide will navigate you through the process of becoming a professional drone pilot in Australia, including the necessary certifications and career prospects.
Drone Pilot Responsibilities
Drone operators, often referred to as drone pilots, are highly skilled professionals responsible for the operation and control of UAVs or drones.
Their responsibilities encompass a diverse range of activities, such as survey data collection, asset inspection, atmospheric data gathering, aerial photography, location filming, and more. Key aspects of a drone operator’s role include:
- Maintenance: Ensuring the proper upkeep of drone platforms and associated equipment.
- Equipment Testing: Conducting rigorous equipment tests to ensure flawless functioning.
- Safety Evaluation: Assessing potential safety concerns associated with job requirements.
- Weather Monitoring: Constantly monitoring weather conditions for safe flight operations.
- Flight Planning: Meticulously planning flight operations.
- Piloting Skills: Safely operating drones during flights.
- Data Collection: Collecting pertinent data to support client projects.
- Sensor Management: Managing cameras and other sensors mounted on the drone.
- Skill Enhancement: Pursuing additional certifications to broaden their skill set.
It is imperative to acknowledge that drone technology and regulations in Australia are in a state of constant evolution. Drone operators must remain updated on the latest changes implemented by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) to ensure compliance with the most current standards.
Becoming a Drone Pilot in Australia
To embark on a career as a professional drone pilot in Australia, obtaining a Remote Pilots Licence (RePL) is mandatory. This licence is issued by CASA-approved training organisations and allows individuals to operate specific categories of drones for commercial purposes. Depending on the scope of work, additional certifications may be required, such as night operations or different drone categories.
Remote Pilots Licences are typically obtained through accredited training programs. These courses are offered by independent training organisations authorised by CASA to grant licences upon successful completion.
Becoming a drone pilot in Australia involves approximately five days of training to officially obtain your Remote Pilots Licence. The training program consists of both practical and theoretical components, including a minimum of five hours of hands-on flight training and 15 hours of classroom instruction.
Topics covered in the theoretical portion include drone laws and systems, meteorology, flight planning, human factors, maps and charts, and Aviation English Language certification. Some courses may offer hybrid virtual training options while still requiring in-person flight training.
Cost of Becoming a Drone Pilot
The cost of drone pilot training, including obtaining your RePL, varies depending on the training organisation you select. Typically, this cost ranges around $1,750, with some providers offering a $890 Conversion Course for individuals with prior aviation experience.
When choosing a drone training program, it is essential to compare course contents and ensure they meet your requirements. Additionally, consider the type of drone systems used in training, as well as the qualifications and real-world experience of the instructors.
Professional Drone Pilot Salary
In Australia, drone pilots earn an average annual salary of approximately $83,700. Entry-level drone pilots can expect around $61,000, while experienced pilots with certifications can earn $100,000 or more per year. Salary levels are influenced by factors such as experience, certifications, flight hours, and industry specialisation.
Opportunities for lucrative careers often exist in industries like mining and power generation, which value skilled pilots for their safety and precision standards.
Industries That Rely on Drone Pilots
Drones have become indispensable in various professional sectors in Australia, including:
- Mining: Used for surveying, equipment inspections, stockpile management, and enhancing safety.
- Construction and Engineering: Aiding in data collection and project planning.
- Agriculture: Employed for crop health monitoring, pesticide application, and wildlife control.
- Surveying: Revolutionising surveying with accuracy and efficiency.
- Arts and Entertainment: In-demand for photography and videography.
- Emergency Services: Utilised by police, fire, and rescue services.
- Defence and Public Safety: Skills acquired can transfer to civilian industries.
Requirements for Obtaining a RePL
To apply for a remote pilot licence (RePL), individuals must:
- Be a remote pilot for an entity with a remotely piloted aircraft operator’s certificate (ReOC).
- Fly a drone weighing more than 25 kg but less than 150 kg over their own land.
- A RePL is not required for those eligible to operate micro RPAs (250 g or less) or excluded category RPAs, which include RPAs weighing more than 250 g but less than 2 kg and more than 2 kg but less than 25 kg (only over their own land) and those flying for recreational purposes.
A RePL does not expire, and there is no minimum age requirement for obtaining one.
Elevate Your Career with UAV Training Australia
Becoming a drone pilot opens doors to exciting career opportunities across diverse industries in Australia. UAV Training Australia, a CASA-certified training organisation based in Brisbane, offers comprehensive RePL courses tailored to equip individuals with the skills needed to pursue a career as a commercial drone operator.
Whether your goals involve mining, engineering, entertainment, or other fields, our training programs can be customised to match your aspirations. Contact us today to enrol in your RePL training or design a personalised training package to kickstart your journey toward becoming a drone pilot. Your career in this exciting field awaits!