If you have concerns regarding a specific UAV operation, including doubts over whether that operation is illegal, safe or maybe suspicious, there are options by which you can obtain further information and several different ways you can report it to an appropriate authority for more detailed investigation and action:
1. First, you can check if they are a Certified UAV Operator, meaning they hold a UAV Operators Certificate (UOC) issued by the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA). CASA makes public a full list of those entities which hold such certification on its website. This list is updated each month and the latest version can be accessed here: http://www.casa.gov.au/scripts/nc.dll?WCMS:STANDARD::pc=PC_100959
CASA certified UAV Operators are permitted to operate UAVs for ‘Hire & Reward’ or for commercial purposes. Many commercial UAV Operators are approved by CASA to conduct UAV flight operations inside Controlled Airspace, and within populous areas, but minimum safe operating standards still apply. However, despite clear regulatory guidance published by CASA, there are many UAV operators who choose not to pursue certification, meaning they are operating illegally under Australian law.
If the UAV operator cannot produce a CASA issued ‘UAV Operator Certificate’ (UOC), or they are not on the CASA list of certified UAV Operators, you can refer the matter directly to CASA’s RPAS program office using this email address: [email protected].
You can also submit an online report to the CASA RPAS office here: http://www.casa.gov.au/scripts/nc.dll?WCMS:STANDARD::pc=PC_100378
2. If you believe aviation safety is being compromised or is at serious risk you should phone the CASA safety hotline on 1800 074 737, or contact the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) Link here: https://www.atsb.gov.au/mandatory/asair.aspx
Risks to aviation safety could include; UAVs being flown near airports, aerodromes or helipads; UAVs being flown more than 400ft above the ground level, at night, or into clouds.
The ATSB also has a confidential reporting system – REPCON – Link here: http://www.atsb.gov.au/voluntary/repcon-aviation.aspx
3. If you believe UAVs are being used in a suspicious activity [ie flying at night, breaches of privacy, dropping packages or other suspicious activity] then you should notify the local Police immediately.
If you believe the suspicious UAV activity might be a threat to national security you should call the National Security Hotline on: 1800 123 400
4. ACUO does not have the power to enforce any aviation regulations or to investigate breaches of the regulations or suspicious activity, but with a membership base reaching right across the country we are often the eyes & ears for the aviation regulator.
If you do not wish to contact the authorities directly you can send the details to ACUO. We will conduct our own initial checks as is reasonably possible and if we find sufficient evidence to suggest a breach of the regulations may have occurred, we will make the information available to CASA.
We are not obliged to disclose to CASA where the information came from, however, you should note that we are bound by prevailing national and state laws relating to criminal matters. Your attention is drawn to section 137.1 of the Federal Criminal Code 1995, which states that a report with information known to be false and misleading may be a criminal offence. Your should also be aware that if for any reason, CASA or the named party involved determine the complaint was false and misleading, or malicious in intent, we can be legally compelled to disclose the origin of the complaint.
You should also be aware that ACUO collates all reports made to it for statistical purposes, with this data used from time to time to inform the Australian Federal Government, law enforcement entities, CASA and the ATSB of emergent patterns and problem focal points. This statistical reporting does not include details of the source of information for specific incidents but will provide guidance on generic geographical regions.
In all other instances, the origin of any information supplied to ACUO will remain anonymous.