Drone danger: Remedies for damage by civilian remotely piloted aircraft to persons or property on the ground in Australia

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Torts Law Journal, 2016, 23 (3), pp. 290 - 319
Issue Date:
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Civilian use of drones (remotely piloted aircraft: RPA) in Australian skies is increasing at a dramatic rate. While there is a strict regulatory framework in which RPA operate, they have the capacity to cause significant damage to persons or property on the ground. This article evaluates the availability and scope of statutory and common law remedies for such damage demonstrating a complex matrix of potential accountability. Statutory strict liability under damage by aircraft legislation does not apply uniformly to all RPA with the definition of RPA as ‘aircraft’ the crucial determinant. Where the statutory remedy is unavailable, common law causes of action must be relied upon with the statutory safety regulations providing assistance in establishing liability. This article demonstrates that it would be appropriate for legislators to ensure uniform application of the strict liability regime to all RPA and for compulsory identification and insurance of RPA.
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