The Association of Australian Certified UAV Operators Inc. (ACUO) began in 2009 with seven of the then eight CASA certified UAV operators, and was formally registered as a not-for-profit association in the State of Queensland on the 31st March 2010.

ACUO is bound by its Constitution to:

  • Protect the interests of CASA Certified UAV Operators
  • Establish the association as a responsible authority and;
  • Promote the growth and expansion of the commercial UAV industry in Australia

ACUO was the first commercial UAV Operator association of its type in the world. Since this landmark event,  we have seen similarly focused associations being formed in Europe and the Americas. This ‘Operator’ focus stands in contrast to the acknowledged existence of generic, marketing-oriented industry bodies, which do not address the challenges of day-to-day commercial aviation activity, or “Aerial Work Operations”.

The ACUO membership has decades of experience in commercial UAV operations and an impeccable record of safety.


Through independent meetings with CASA, ACUO presents important industry perspectives to the aviation regulator, discusses regulatory issues of importance to certified UAV Operators and provides high-level advice & recommendations on a range of issues the industry needs to address as a matter of priority. This includes mitigating risks to aviation & public safety, setting appropriate industry standards, strict enforcement of the aviation regulations as part of a wider regulatory reform process, and raising public & business awareness to both the risks & the benefits from commercial unmanned aviation.

ACUO has not swayed from these core issues and continues to engage with CASA, Airservices Australia, other federal bodies and organisations, in ensuring the commercial unmanned aviation sector is adequately represented, administered & regulated. ACUO is directly involved in the regulatory reform process as a contributor to CASA and Department of Infrastructure working groups.

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ACUO Management Committee works hard to ensure certified UAV Operators and the industry they are heavily invested in are adequately represented, protected & promoted at all levels and in all related forums. ACUO has been active in representing certified UAV Operators on fundamental issues of Privacy, Insurance, Training Standards and operational Area Approvals. ACUO also actively assists members with administrative and regulatory issues that affect commercial UAV Operators from time to time.

ACUO regularly provides advice on RPAS related issues to governments, public and private enterprise, organizations, businesses & individuals on the fundamentals of RPAS operations in the Australian national airspace, and associated issues.


The Association of Australian Certified UAV Operators Inc. (ACUO) began in early 2009 with a number of informal meetings between the three Queensland certified UAV Operators at the time, Ray Gillinder & Brad Mason from Helimetrex, Joe Urli from UAV Systems, & Peter Hill from VTOL Aerospace. Over the course of 2009 informal meetings became more formal as more certified UAV Operators joined the group.

The certified UAV Operators were prompted to meet by a lack of direct representation for commercial UAV operators in industry forums, and a noticeable increase in the number of illegal and unauthorized UAV operators beginning to appear around the country.

The certified UAV Operators believed it was vital to stand together as one united voice to better represent & protect the commercial sector of unmanned aviation. The certified UAV Operators invested significant time & resources in the long-term viability of this industry and it was important to protect the integrity of that industry base as a legitimate sector of the wider aviation community.

But for the commercial sector of unmanned aviation to properly grow it was equally important to start ‘demystifying’ the technical & operational complexity inherent in our chosen profession, and to make it more accessible to industries, businesses and to new UAV Operators alike.

By the end of 2009 we had a committed group of seven of the eight Australian certified UAV Operators at the time, in agreement to move forward in forming our own association.

On the 31st March 2010, ACUO was formally registered as a not-for-profit association in Queensland.

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ACUO Management Committee (MC) is made up of 7 full members of the association elected annually by their peers.

The Management Committee meets regularly to make decisions on the strategies, policies & growth of the association, to discuss matters of importance to ACUO and its members, and to ensure the integrity of the association and its core values are being maintained.


President: Tom Pils

The Drone Lawyer

Tom is a lawyer by profession and has specialised in drone law since 2016, coming from a background in commercial law and litigation. His intimate knowledge of the drone regulatory landscape combined with an understanding of the greater commercial environment in which drone businesses operate, places him in a unique position to advise his clients on the drone regulations while also considering the big picture commercial regulatory aspects of an issue or decision.

When Tom is not writing contracts, advising on complex areas of the drone legislation, or representing clients in court, his passion lies in drone law education. One of Tom’s great pleasures, somewhat oddly, is to take a seemingly confusing Instrument or regulatory amendment, analyse and dismantle it, and then express it in a plain manner yet without losing its meaning, so that drone operators can understand their legal rights and obligations.

As President of ACUO, Tom aims to use these skills, and to work alongside the Management Committee to protect the interests of CASA Certified RPAS Operators, and to promote the growth and expansion of the commercial RPAS industry in Australia.

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Secretary: Aaron McKay

Aus Aerial Media

I am a photographic and video specialist working in both these industries for over 25 years.

My vision is to provide a simple, affordable and excellent photographic and video solution to my clients.

I pride myself on my work ethic and attention to detail and will deliver the best solution to whatever photographic, video or mapping requirements, ground based or aerial you might need.

I’ve taken my vast skills into the aerial media field and has been utilising drones for aerial photography and video, mapping, data analysis and 3D modelling since 2017.

Working with State and local governments bodies, the construction industry, builders and demolition companies his business Aus Aerial Media have become experts in capturing data for the construction and demolition industries specialising in Time-Lapse videos of projects, aerial mapping, 3D modelling and fine art images of the construction and demolition projects.

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MC Member: Ty Tamblyn

Air Inspect Australia

Ty has been involved in the drone industry since 2016 when he purchased his first phantom. He enjoys using his creative photography skills in the air. He has spent the last 13 years as a Professional Photographer in the Sunshine Coast, specialising in Commercial Photography, Real Estate and Virtual Tours.

By making the leap of swapping his DSLR for a drone, Ty knows what truly drives change, innovation, and revolution within the realms of photography and drones.

Ty is a senior remote pilot and has recently taken on the role as business development manager at Air Inspect Australia. When he learned about the integration of aerial data acquisition into digital representations, he knew this is where is professional future would take him. Ty has worked on successful campaigns that have connected clients with aerial data acquisition solutions to commercial property problems.

Ty believes life is too short to do work you hate. He is always working directly with people and wants to develop a new generation of like-minded people with a desire to live in a world with drones.

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MC Member: Sean Mattheisz

Air Inspect Australia

Sean is a digital native starting his career in Robotics and transitioned into the IT and services industry. He has over 20 years’ experience in the telecommunications sector from working hands-on in software development, to managing large scale projects and programs to ultimately drive business development due to his commitment in achieving customer outcomes.  His continual passion in digital systems has nourished his technical skills into unmanned aircrafts and the benefits of their societal impact. He is the Chief Remote Pilot and Business Development Manager at Air Inspect Australia –  a safe aerial data acquisition specialist – providing end-to-end aerial imagery solutions.

Sean is a strong advocate of aviation safety, sustainable development and innovative solutions. He has delivered cutting edge aerial strategies and innovative campaigns that increase efficiency and safety, accelerate growth and maximise the budgets of commercial enterprises.

Sean is always open to challenges, discussions and exchange of ideas from various stakeholders in the UAV industry.

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MC Member: Danny Elassad


Danny is the Chief Remote Pilot of one of Australia’s longest operating drone service providers, Hoverscape.

Prior to entering the drone industry in 2017, Danny was a chef for the past 15 years running multiple restaurants and cafes across Sydney, but a love for technology and photography persuaded the career change to the ever-growing RPAS industry.

After taking the plunge into the creative side of the industry and logging hundreds of hours across various categories of RPAS, he joined Hoverscape as a remote pilot and worked through the ranks to become their Chief Remote Pilot.
While specialising commercially in Digital Twins and aerial inspections, Danny also specialises in the creative aspects of the industry, from general photography to large scale cinematic productions.

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MC Member: Michael Coyne

Unique Aerial Solutions

Director and Chief Remote Pilot Michael Coyne. Michael firsts gained his Commercial Pilots Licence (manned) in 1996 and has held his Licence with numerous aircraft types and endorsements since. As a subject matter expert in Air Law and Legislation, Michael has been called on to consult with Civil Aviation Safety Authority over the last 9 years in relation to official forms templates and requirements, to changes in legislation.

Michael was first introduced into RPAS (drones) in 2010 and has been actively involved in the industry both nationally and internationally on a full-time basis. Assisting multiple Australian and International companies in industries such as Mining, Survey, Construction, Film and Video media, Agriculture, and Education to gain their commercial qualifications through CASA.

Michael has spent time by invitation in Germany, training and as an instructor in flight and maintenance of Multi Rotor RPAS by the manufacturer. Michael’s working experience in RPAS covers Multi Rotor, Fixed Wing and VTOL from micro to 100kg plus MTOW.

Please contact the President or Secretary about becoming an MC Member



Our Management Committee is elected annually from the membership to promote the benefits of professional RPAS Operators, and to protect the industry from unnecessary burden.


ACUO is a Non-Corporate Partner Organisation member of UVS International, the global unmanned systems industry association headquartered in Paris. ACUO is Australia’s representative on the International RPAS Coordination Council, a prestigious industry body initiated by UVS International to coordinate RPAS standards globally.


ACUO also participates in a variety of international RPAS committees focusing on issues of importance to the commercial sector of unmanned aviation, including Insurance, Flight-Crew Training & Licensing and Airworthiness & Maintenance.