There are currently no internationally-mandated noise aviation standards for emerging aviation technologies.
Countries and regions across the world are considering what regulations and standards may be appropriate given the industry is rapidly evolving.
In Australia, the Air Navigation (Aircraft Noise) Regulations 2018 (the Noise Regulations) apply to drones.
New Drone Noise Regulations
On 14 December 2021, the former Australian Government introduced a new regulatory framework to better manage noise from drones. The new regulations are set out in the Air Navigation (Aircraft Noise) Regulations 2018(the Noise Regulations). The department is observed a grace period until 1 July 2022, to assist industry adjust to the new regulatory framework.
The purpose of the Noise Regulations with regard to remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) and drones (used interchangeably) are to provide a targeted and risk-based approach to managing noise disruptions caused by RPA to the community.
Most RPA operators will likely be exempt from requiring an approval. RPA operators undertaking complex or large operations may be required to gain an approval from the department.
Who Needs to Apply?
You do not need to seek an approval under the Noise Regulations if:
- You are flying for fun or recreation; or
- You are flying for a commercial purpose in the 'Excluded RPA' category (visit the Civil Aviation Safety Authority's (CASA) website}; or
- You only fly drones that weigh 250 grams or less; or
- You only fly drones under the standard operating conditions (visit CASA's website); or
- You only fly drones for one or more of the following purposes:
- Agricultural operations
- Environmental operations
- Fire-fighting, medical, emergency or policing purposes
You may need to seek approval under the Noise Regulations if:
- You are flying for a commercial purpose and/or you have been issued a remotely piloted aircraft operator's certificate (ReOC) (visit CASA's website).
Please note: Only the ReOC holder should apply for an approval under the Noise Regulations. Pilots who operate RPA under a ReOC (through a remote pilot licence) need not apply.
If you are operating under a ReOC and are not sure if you require an approval, it is recommended that you use the self-assessment application form.
How to Apply?
Applications for an approval under the Noise Regulations may be made using the form below. The form is a self-assessment questionnaire which is designed to determine how likely your operations are to have a significant noise impact on the community. Based on your answers, you may be exempted from requiring an approval, granted an automated approval, or required to provide a full application to the department.
If your operations are considered to pose a high risk of causing significant noise impacts, you will need to undertake a full application process. This will require you to provide more detailed information to the department about your intended drone operations. The department will discuss this with you, and may place conditions on your drone operations designed to mitigate noise impacts.
ReOC holders should only complete this form once to cover all their expected drone operations over the next 12 months. Answers should be provided on the typical drone operations you undertake in your business and/or any planned operations over this period. If you are not sure about the details of the operations you may be conducting over the next year, answer the questions to the best of your knowledge.
If the nature of your operations change significantly over the next 12 months, you may be required to complete the form again or provide additional information to the department to maintain a valid approval. Details of your obligations will be provided as part of your approval.
Note that an approval under the Noise Regulation is not a replacement or a substitute for any other approvals your drone operations may require.
Self-Assessment Application Form
Your drone noise self-assessment application form, including any personal information requested, is being collected by the department in accordance with the Privacy Act 1988, and as authorised under the Air Navigation (Aircraft Noise) Amendment (2021 Measures No. 1) Regulations 2021.
The department will use this information to consider drone noise self-assessment applications.
Your personal information will be stored securely. It may be used by the department to make further contact and/or to seek further information from you about your noise self-assessment application. Your personal information will not be disclosed to any other third parties.
How we use Community Feedback
Feedback from the community, including complaints made about noise from drones, plays an important role in how the Department manages drone noise. Community feedback about noise from drones may result in the Department:
- Requesting additional information from drone operators and enquiring about noise mitigation strategies;
- Adding mandatory conditions to a drone operator’s approval to mitigate noise impacts. This may include limitations on the times of day drones may be operated, the types of drones or the frequency of flights;
- Revoking an automated noise approval and requiring a drone operator to undertake a full application process.
Operating without an approval
If your drone operations are not exempt under the Noise Regulations and you operate without an approval, you may be committing an offence under the Noise Regulations. The Department observed a grace period until 1 July 2022 to allow drone operators time to obtain an approval if required. A penalty can be imposed under Division 1, section 6(4) of the Noise Regulations if a drone operator engages in air navigation without an approval when one is required.
Full Application Process
If your drone operation is required to undertake a full application process, the Department may seek further information from you including, but not limited to:
- Drone models and/or measurement of noise emissions;
- Operational details such as:
- location of operations; and
- hours of operation.
- Noise abatement procedures / strategies used;
- Community and local government engagement; and
- Complaints management.
As part of your approval, we may impose reporting requirements to help monitor noise impacts. This may include:
- Aircraft movements (e.g. how many flights were undertaken in a calendar month);
- Community feedback and noise complaint management;
- Engagement with local authorities.
As drones become more popular for commercial and recreational use, the issue of drone noise is becoming more important.
To give feedback or complain about noise from drones, email your enquiry to Dronenoise@infrastructure.gov.au.
If you have a complaint about drone noise, please include information about:
- Your name
- The suburb and postcode of your complaint/concern
- The date, time and the frequency of your concern
- Your concern(s)
- Drone operator name (if appropriate)
If your concern is about the safety and unsafe operation of drones, report your concern to Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).
Further information on the rules that all done users should be aware and abide by, whether recreational or commercial can be found at CASA’s website.