Call for urgent action on drone safety

Parliamentary committee urges compulsory training for recreational drone flyers

An inquiry into the regulations governing the use of remotely piloted and unmanned drones has called for immediate action to strengthen safety rules.

The inquiry by the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee is not due to report until early December.

However, in a statement released yesterday the committee revealed it had last month written to infrastructure and transport minister Darren Chester calling for strengthened regulations governing the use of drones.

In particular, the inquiry urged action in three areas: Compulsory safety awareness and training for recreational drone users; empowering the Civil Aviation Safety Authority to register all individual drones regardless of their size or intended use; and the introduction for geofencing technology and/or drone shields to protect controlled airspace and airports.

“It is of considerable concern to the committee that recreational drone users are not required to register themselves or their equipment before flying a drone,” the statement issued by the committee said.

“In order to reduce the prospect of a serious accident, it has become clear to the committee that the regulatory regime must be strengthened. As a first step, recreational users must be educated and trained so they have a minimum level of aeronautical knowledge. Safeguards (including tracking) should be established to protect Australia's air space and the general public.”

CASA has indicated it was interested in working with drone operators that are seeking to push the boundaries of the technology to ensure they do so safely.

A statement of expectations issued to CASA’s board by Chester in March called on it to ensure the regulator makes progress on strategic priorities including dealing with “emerging risks in aviation such as remotely piloted aircraft systems”.

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