Drones are increasingly being used In Australia


Drones are increasingly being used In Australia.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) says the unprecedented number of applications to operate drones commercially is inundating.

CASA refers to drones as remote piloted aircrafts (RPAs) because of the human element that controls and oversees them. But they are also referred to as unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

In some difficult and expensive regional parts and remote areas of Australia they are becoming increasingly popular.

According to CASA spokesman, Peter Gibson drones are used in mining, agriculture, fire brigades, by police forces, aerial photography and survey work among other areas with about 200 approved operators in Australia. He says that the applications people are putting them to keep broadening all the time. There are about 30 odd applications at any given time which are progressively approved in the growing Australian aviation.

Growth possibilities in use of drones

A research was done by CSIRO in 2010 to find out whether drones could make cattle mustering more efficient and cheaper. Dr. Dave Henry, the principal research scientist said the project involved equipping a drone with a thermal camera so that they can locate livestock in large rangelands in Queensland. He said the aim is to be able to muster all the animals at key times of the year. He further said that if they can locate the animals before mustering, then they can orgnise their helicopters and crews to be in the right place at the right time. Dr. Henry said the CSIRO was now looking at how the tool could be used more broadly.

Broome resident Shayne Thomson has been using a drone recreationally for the past 12 months. However, his vision is the usage of drones in planning and environmental purposes.

He has taken his drone to Gantheaume Beach. He said he used the drones for fun and therefore did not need a license. However, he warned recreational users should take a commonsense approach saying the main thing is to fly within the rules and regulations by CASA because if everybody does that, then people will be able to continue using these for recreational purposes.

Rules governing recreational drones

  • Operate in line of sight
  • Do not fly within 30 metres of people or buildings
  • Stay under 400 feet
  • Do not fly over populous areas such as beaches or crowds
  • Do not fly within 5.5km of an airfield
  • It is illegal to fly a model aircraft for money or reward without CASA approval
  • Fines are between $800 and $8,000
  • CASA may prosecute in serious cases

Australia 'leading the charge' in controlling use

According to Mr. Gibson said those using a drone for commercial purposes in Australia must obtain an operator's certificate from CASA. He said that Australia was leading the charge despite CASA fighting to keep up with the number of applications to be processed.

"We're one of the first countries in the world to actually have a set of rules covering and allowing for commercial remotely-piloted-aircraft operations," he said.

He went on to say that countries like the United States haven't actually got this, so Australia is very lucky to put those rules into place more than 10 years ago. However, he was quick to note that keeping up is the challenge.

Most recent designs include small quads with helicopter-like blades, and light toy-like planes operated by remote control and sometimes even monitored with cameras fitted to goggles so that from a great distance the operator can see where they are flying.

Depending on the model and use of the drone, there are various heights, weights and licensing conditions set out by CASA.





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