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Understanding: Jurisdictions

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At this stage we will focus on airspace jurisdictions, and not worry about other types such as local government, private property, etc.

Most organisations will operate entirely within one jurisdiction, or, more accurately, within one territorial airspace jurisdiction. There may be multiple authorities, within that jurisdiction, which govern drone operations.


The world’s regulatory systems are divided into jurisdictions. ‘Jurisdiction’ is a legal concept that describes the sovereign authority vested in a State to hold that a set of laws, regulations and rules apply. Typically, a named authority is granted the power to administer the appropriate legislation in a specified geographical area. Often this will include a country-wide licensing or certification system, for example, RPA Operator Certificates (ReOC) in Australia. So, in Australia, Civil Aviation Safety Authority’s (CASA) jurisdiction is Australian civil aviation and it is applicable to a defined territory.

Some of the generic names given to authorities that govern airspace jurisdictions include:

  • An ATSB (Air Transport Safety Bureau)
  • A CAA (Civil Aviation Authority)
  • An ANSP (Air Navigation Service Provider)

Authority Types and Organisations can be  associated with one or more jurisdictions.


Here are some of the various scenarios that might apply:

  • An Australian company operating in Australia, using the FlyFreely platform;
  • An Australian company, using the FlyFreely platform, operating in another country, eg Vanuatu, or PNG;
  • A foreign company operating in Australia, using the FlyFreely platform;
  • A foreign company operating in a country other than Australia, using the FlyFreely platform; and
  • A company, using the FlyFreely platform, operating across jurisdictional borders during the same mission.

This is one of my favorite examples. Four countries meet at a point somewhere in the middle of the large river. There is quite a lot of activity in this area, with border controls, police and military posts, tourist facilities, etc.  Imagine trying to plan that mission… you can just make out a line between Botswana and Zimbabwe which is a border fence.


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