What is an RePL?
All remote pilots that work under an ReOC, and those intended to operate medium Excluded RPA (25kg up to 150kg) for agricultural purposes etc., must hold a Remote Pilot Licence (RePL). The RePL was previously called a UAV Controllers Certificate. Remote Aviation Australia offers RPAS training so you can obtain your RePL.
Once issued by CASA, the RePL will list any conditions or restrictions that apply to the holder. Examples include the category of RPA/UAV you are permitted to fly (for other than recreational purposes), such as multirotor, helicopter or aeroplane (fixed-wing) and any weight limitations. For RPA weighing less than 25 kg, a generic grouping is endorsed on the RePL, such as “multirotor <7kg” or “aeroplane <25kg”. After obtaining your initial RePL qualification, additional privileges can be obtained by conducting ‘operational’ training by an approved training provider, such as Remote Aviation Australia.
For people new to the industry the terms ReOC and RePL can be very confusing and used incorrectly. The easiest way to understand it is the ReOC (RPA Operators Certificate) is the certification a business (including sole trader) or organisation requires. On the other hand, the RePL (Remote Pilot Licence) is what individual RPA, or UAV, 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. However, 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).
What is an ReOC?
An ReOC, or RPA Operators Certificate, is like the air operator’s certificate (AOC) used for traditional manned aviation operations. ReOCs were formally known as UAV Operator Certificates (UOC), and are still commonly referred to as these. The ReOC authorises the holder to conduct included RPA operations for commercial purposes. The types of RPA, and any specific conditions, are endorsed on this certificate and any “instruments” of approval provided by CASA.
For people new to the industry the terms ReOC and RePL can be very confusing and used incorrectly. The easiest way to understand it is the ReOC (RPA Operators Certificate) is the certification a business (including sole trader) or organisation requires. On the other hand, the RePL (Remote Pilot Licence) 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. However, 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).
You do not need to complete a training course to obtain an ReOC. However, you need to apply to CASA and go through an approval process for your business to be issued its operating certificate. Remote Aviation Australia offers free consulting to any of our students wanting to apply to CASA for an ReOC.
What is a UOC?
The UOC, or UAV Operators Certificate, was the old name for an ReOC. This was changed in September 2016. CASA no longer uses the term UAV in Australia’s legislation.
What is a UCC (UAV Controllers Certificate)?
The UCC, or UAV Controllers Certificate, was the name given to a remote pilot licence (RePL) prior to September 2016. CASA stopped has since stopped using the term UAV.
UCCs are still valid if you hold one – and will be replaced by CASA with an RePL if you make any licence changes.
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. Unfortunately, it also has negative connotations due to it’s name coming from weapon-carrying unmanned aircraft used in recent wars.
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 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, such as a DJI Inspire, 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.
We include AROC training on most of our courses. The exception is our cheaper weekend course, which does not include AROC training. However, we strongly recommend you spend the extra money and invest in the AROC qualification.
Why should I train with Remote Aviation Australia?
We have three objectives for our RPAS training. We will always provide:
• 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.
Please take the time to read the “Our Training” and “Our Instructors” pages of our website for more information about why flying with Remote Aviation Australia is an excellent investment in your career.
Do you offer fixed-wing (aeroplane) RPA training?
Yes we will. We are one of only a handful of schools that offer fixed-wing RPA training. Fixed-wing operations are increasing significantly as operators require their RPA to fly for longer and cover greater distances. Fixed-wing RPA are also the most likely to be used in beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations.
Other RPAS schools, who don’t operate RPA commercially themselves, claim they are better placed to provide training because they won’t compete with students. What’s RAA’s view?
We think this is nonsense and just an excuse some schools have for a lack of experience operating remote aircraft commercially. If we didn’t want you learning from our knowledge and experience, we would have never set up a training school in the first place. Our instructors love to teach, which is evident from their backgrounds as instructors and Check and Training pilots. Our view is the more expert knowledge we can pass on, the better the industry as a whole can be. A bigger pie overall means our slice of the commercial market will get bigger anyway.
Another training provider says their RePL course will let me fly at night. Is this true?
Yes and no. Their course is not unique – all RePL training courses will provide you with the initial qualification to fly at night – the Remote Pilot Licence. However, you cannot simply just start flying your drone at night once you obtain your RePL. 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.
What is the minimum age for an RePL?
The legislation or current CASA advisory material does not specify an age limit to apply for an RePL. However, the theoretical content is aimed at a level of knowledge and comprehension of a person that has completed year 10. With this in mind, the minimum age of someone Remote Aviation Australia will accept on a course is 15.
Any person aged under 18 will also require the permission from a parent or guardian to attend. To cater for these younger students, a number of procedures have been adopted to ensure compliance with Queensland’s Child and Youth Risk Management Strategy.
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?
Completing the full RPAS course is one option to obtain your RePL, but not one we’d recommend. The regulations allow your aviation experience to count towards the requirements for an RePL, saving you time and money.
As long as you have the minimum of a Recreational Pilots Licence, all you need to do is complete operational (practical) RPA/UAV flying training, and log five hours flying experience. You then send Form 101-01 off to CASA to process, and they will issue you a remote pilot licence.
Remote Aviation Australia can complete your operational training using multirotor or fixed-wing/aeroplane RPA. We also give you access to our online theory course.
You can read more about licence conversions here.
Do you offer part-time courses?
Yes. We understand some people need flexible training options. Therefore, we offer online theory training that you can complete at a time that suits you. The next step is to complete the five hours of operational (practical flying) and the exams. Dates for the operational training and exams are available on our Courses page.
If you still prefer lecture-based learning, you are welcome to ‘split’ your training and complete the operational training on another of our flying days that suits you better.
What are your flexible payment options?
Instead of paying the full cost of the course upfront, you have the option to pay a deposit (minimum of $500) 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?
Once you’ve enrolled in the online course, you will be given immediate access to our training. The course can be completed on any computer or tablet. All you need is a connection to the internet, a web browser and speakers. Much of the online training involves video presentations – please ensure you are connected to a suitable data source to avoid expensive data charges, 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 a strict set of guidelines (known as the standard operating conditions) and can’t fly anything that weighs 2kg or more. This is known as an “Excluded RPA” operation. This suits some operators, but not everyone.
I’ve been told I need to pass the Private Pilots Licence (PPL) exam to get my drone licence. Is this true?
No. This was a very old requirement before CASA started approving RPAS training schools. For manned aviation pilots, if they have passed an aviation exam, such as the PPL exam, the can undertake a streamlined process to obtain their RePL that recognises their prior learning.
However, for anyone without aviation qualifications we do not recommend this training path that involves passing a manned aviation exam. The course content will be irrelevant to unmanned flying, be more difficult to pass the exam, and will most likely take you longer to complete. Completing an RPAS training course is a much easier, appropriate, and potentially cheaper process.
Some websites say there is an Unrestricted and Restricted Licence. Is this still the case?
No. Previously these were licence options, but have not been the case for a long time. When you complete your RPAS training with Remote Aviation Australia, 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 along note taking materials, such as pens and a notepad, and food to eat throughout the day. For the practical flying days, please bring food, water and suitable sun protection. We’ll give you a Remote Aviation Australia hat – please bring it along!
A fridge and microwave is not always available for the theoretical days, and never available for the practical flying days. Therefore, please bring food that does not 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 – all course flying needs to be completed in one of Remote Aviation’s fully-insured aircraft.
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 (including public liability 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.
How do I pay for the course?
Payments can be made online when you enrol in your course. If you prefer to use a different payment method, please contact us and we will assist you.
Do you offer discounted or corporate rates?
We will offer an excellent discounted rate for groups of four or more. If your organisation requires its employees to obtain remote pilot licences, please contact us and we will work out a very competitive price for you.
Can you offer a ‘closed’ training sessions for my employees only (i.e. no general public)?
Yes. We have completed a number of these courses for corporate clients.
We can offer courses for individual organisations at a time and place that suits you. We will tailor our training to suit your intended operations. We can also negotiate a corporate rate.