As the popularity of drones continues to grow, these marvels of technology are now being purchased over the counter and through the mail for recreational and professional purposes across Australia.

This rapid proliferation of small drones has created a significant challenge for the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), the body responsible for enforcing current rules while developing future regulations that will enable the safe and sustainable growth of this emerging and important sector of the aviation industry.

“The rules and regulations for drones exist to provide a clear and safe operating framework, but many individuals, organisations, and government agencies, are still unaware of the basic rules and duty of care obligations to the wider community,” said Mark Xavier, CEO of V-TOL Aerospace.

“Stories of drones in near misses with passenger aircraft and injuries to bystanders are becoming a daily occurrence around the globe. Australia is seeing a rise in such incidents, of which 99 per cent can be attributed to untrained and unapproved operators flying small drones in an unsafe or hazardous manner,” he continued.

The majority of small drones being flown for any purpose are being launched and recovered from either private or public land. “Without the need of a traditional aerodrome, many flights commence and conclude on public land, making local and state governments, particularly in urban areas, a stakeholder with risk. This is not just a CASA problem,” said Mr Xavier.

“There is no doubt that this technology in its basic form is affordable, easily acquired, is becoming more reliable and can provide individuals recreational enjoyment and organisations access to timely, detailed, accurate and highly valuable geospatial information,” said Frank Martin, CEO of the Australian Unmanned Systems Academy (AUSA).

“At the local government level there are two important questions being asked. How can councils take advantage of this technology in their routine business and during periods of emergency? And how do we control the use of drones and ensure we address our legal duty of care to our constituents in maintaining their safety?” he continued.

AUSA, in conjunction with CASA, will be addressing these very questions and associated issues at a two-day ‘Drones in Local Government’ conference from 12-13 February in Ipswich, Queensland.

For further information on this conference, please contact [email protected] or go to www.ausacademy.org.

Michelle is a freelance journalist and editor who, as well as covering all the latest and breaking industry news, is a gun proofreader and editor who never misses a trick.

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