An Australian drone-safety group claims a recent government report on aircraft safety does not adequately encompass one of the fastest growing aviation sectors – unmanned aerial vehicles.
In a recent press release, the Australian Certified UAV Operators Association warned that the Aviation Safety Regulation Review’s Safety Report missed a major opportunity to examine the broad range of challenges posed by the increasing numbers of commercial unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).”
According to Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss, the ASRR report, which makes 37 recommendation, “confirms that Australia has an excellent safety record and an advanced aviation regulatory system [and] recognises that there are opportunities for the system to be improved to ensure Australia remains a global aviation leader.”
However, the ACUO contends that, while the report covers safety issues for gliding, ultralights, parachuting, hang gliding and ballooning, it fails to cover “one of the highest growth sectors of aviation in unmanned aircraft.”
“ACUO is deeply concerned at the safety implications of CASA’s recently proposed deregulation of UAS under 2kg in weight with that specific type of system increasingly appearing to be the primary type of threat being encountered by manned aviation,” said ACUO president Joe Urli.
Despite the ACUO’s concerns, many drone operators have called recent Australian reforms, such as the Civil Aviation Safety Authority’s certification of more than 100 commercial UAV operators, a step in the right direction. The CASA made headlines recently by distributing 100,000 informational leaflets to various hobby-store outlets “spelling out the rules” for UAV flights.
CASA’s safety push came in the wake of three high-profile drone incidents. In April, a drone allegedly hit an athlete running a triathlon in Western Australia while another drone crashed into Sydney’s Harbour Bridge in November. In March, a drone nearly collided with a rescue helicopter. The drone in question exceeded the legal height restrictions of 120 meters (393 feet) by flying up to 300 meters (984 feet).
Despite the educational efforts by CASA, the ACUO says that the government is not doing enough:
“CASA’s structures for developing UAS regulations and providing effective oversight of this emerging sector remain under-resourced and unresponsive to real world commercial conditions, with the safety review report completely silent on UAS matters as a whole.”
Looking to the future, the ACUO says it will continue to “strongly urge the Federal Government to act to ensure UAS are not neglected … lest the near miss incidents of recent months come to result in a significant aviation accident and serious injuries or the loss of lives.”
Jason is a longstanding contributor to DroneLife with an avid interest in all things tech. He focuses on anti-drone technologies and the public safety sector; police, fire, and search and rescue.
Beginning his career as a journalist in 1996, Jason has since written and edited thousands of engaging news articles, blog posts, press releases and online content.
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