Drone safety: Scanning technology will not be installed in the Central West

NO SCANNING: New drone scanning technology will not be installed across the Central West. Photo: FILE
NO SCANNING: New drone scanning technology will not be installed across the Central West. Photo: FILE

NEW drone-hunting technology being rolled out at major Australian airports will not be put in place across the Central West.

Commencing this month, drones that breach a 5.5 kilometre exclusion zone around the country’s major airports will be electronically scanned for serial numbers and the owner’s location.

The scanning technology is aimed at thwarting drone attacks and comes in the wake of the closure of Britain’s Gatwick Airport after drones infiltrated the restricted airspace.

Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) spokesman Peter Gibson told The Sydney Morning Herald that the industry faced a growing risk that collisions with drones could bring down passenger planes.

Despite this, the technology will not be rolled out to the Central West.

Parkes Shire councillor Alan Ward, who is the Parkes Regional Airport Sub-Committee chair, said flying drones in close proximity to the airport impacted on aviation safety for passenger flights, freight providers and general aviation.

A collision with a drone can cause significant damage to a plane of any size.

Parkes Shire councillor and Parkes Regional Airport Sub-Committee chair Alan Ward

“A collision with a drone can cause significant damage to a plane of any size,” he said.

Mr Ward said any breach of CASA’s drone safety rules at Parkes Airport would be reported by council.

“There are significant penalties for breaking these rules, including fines of up to $10,000,” he said.

Mr Ward said Parkes Airport was covered in the ‘Can I Fly Here?’ app which council encouraged all drone users to visit before flying.

“The app uses data from Airservices Australia to illustrate where you are permitted to fly,” he said.

In Bathurst, deputy mayor Bobby Bourke said the use of drones had the potential to cause “substantial issues to aircraft operations around an airport”.

“The use of drones would pose a low risk at Bathurst Airport in comparison to major international airports,” he said.

NO SCANNING: New drone scanning technology will not be installed across the Central West. Photo: FILE

NO SCANNING: New drone scanning technology will not be installed across the Central West. Photo: FILE

“Most drones have devices installed that restrict their ability to operate within restricted airspace, and these devices automatically shut down when they detect this is the case.”

Meanwhile, a Dubbo Regional Council spokeswoman said a review of drone operations was currently underway.

“Drones are not permitted to operate within a 5.5km radius of the airport under CASA regulations,” she said.

“In the event of a breach the appropriate authorities are notified, such as air services, CASA [and] police.”

While Orange City Council manager of corporate and community relations Nick Redmond said while Orange was not a controlled airport, there were regulations in place which were aimed at keeping drones well away from controlled air space.

“There are also regulations which are aimed at keeping drones well away from aircraft,” he said.

If anyone flying a drone become aware of a nearby plane or helicopter they are required to land as soon as possible.

Orange City Council manager of corporate and community relations Nick Redmond

“If anyone flying a drone become aware of a nearby plane or helicopter they are required to land as soon as possible.”

Mr Redmond said CASA’s new requirements for recreational drone users, that are due to start in mid-2019, were a positive step for the community’s safety.

“The move by CASA to expand the requirement for all drones to be registered will increase the amount of skill training and safety awareness by drone pilots,” he said.

New rules for recreational drone users

From mid-2019 a new national registration scheme will determine that all recreational drone users with a device weighing at least 250 grams to complete a safety and training course.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) guidelines are aimed at making it safer for aircraft and also people on the ground. Read more.

Rules for drone flying

  • You must not fly your drone higher than 120 metres (400 ft) above the ground.
  • You must not fly your drone over or near an area affecting public safety or where emergency operations are underway (without prior approval). This could include situations such as a car crash, police operations, a fire and associated firefighting efforts, and search and rescue operations.
  • You must not fly your drone within 30 metres of people, unless the other person is part of controlling or navigating the drone.
  • You must fly only one drone at a time.
  • You must only fly during the day and keep your drone within visual line-of sight. This means being able to orientate, navigate and see the aircraft with your own eyes at all times (rather than through a device; for example, through goggles or on a video screen).
  • You must not fly over or above people. This could include festivals, sporting ovals, populated beaches, parks, busy roads and footpaths.
  • You must not operate your drone in a way that creates a hazard to another aircraft, person, or property
  • You must not operate your drone in prohibited or restricted areas.
  • Approval is generally linked to an approved model flying association and its members
  • Please respect personal privacy. Don’t record or photograph people without their consent—this may breach state laws.

If your drone weighs more than 100 grams

  • You must keep your drone at least 5.5 kilometres away from controlled aerodromes (usually those with a control tower)
  • You may fly within 5.5km of a non-controlled aerodrome or helicopter landing site (HLS) only if manned aircraft are not operating to or from the aerodrome. If you become aware of manned aircraft operating to or from the aerodrome/ HLS, you must manoeuvre away from the aircraft and land as soon as safely possible. This includes: not operating your drone within the airfield boundary (*without approval); and not operating your drone in the approach and departure paths of the aerodrome (*without approval)

Tips for flying within the law

  • There might be local council and/or national park laws prohibiting drone flights in certain areas.
  • Research the area you plan to fly and contact your council or national park if you're unsure.
  • Don't operate near emergency services aircraft – if you fly, they can't.