Drones Near Airfields: Public Safety Warning
Remote-controlled model aeroplanes have existed for some time, but these have been the domain of very serious enthusiasts due to the technical, precise and expensive nature of the devices.
Drones, on the other hand, are intuitive to fly, cheap and readily available for almost every budget.
Whether you are new to drones or are a steady hand with a remote, it is important to know to fly your device safely.
Drones: a Hazard to Pilots
If you crash your drone into a tree, you might be a little disappointed if your drone is damaged. But for manned aircraft, safety is the highest priority. As such, pilots all over Australia are keen for drone users to understand the basics of drone safety.
Even small drones represent a hazard to airspace users in manned aircraft. For a fixed wing aircraft, it is difficult enough as a pilot to see other aircraft, let alone a drone less than 1m wide.
If an airborne plane collides with a drone, the damage will be significant, maybe even critical. After an impact, the aircraft will definitely have to land. Should the pilot be unfortunate enough for the drone to hit the windscreen, it may well shatter the glass and fatally injure the pilot.
Never forget that the air may not be as empty as you might think when going out to fly your drone.
What are the Rules?
To help keep everyone safe, and allow drone pilots freedom to enjoy the technology, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has published some clear rules on where, and when to fly.
The full list can be found at https://www.casa.gov.au/modelaircraft. The rules only apply to drones less than 2kg. For 2kg or more, you need a remote pilot licence (RePL). Some of the more important rules are:
- Fly below 120m, above ground. And only during daylight.
- Don’t fly within 30m of other people, or outside of your line-of-sight (you must watch you drone as you fly, headset piloting is not permitted).
- Don’t fly above the following; emergency response situation (car crash, fire, etc.), within 5.5km of an airport with a control tower, festivals, sporting events, busy beaches, or any gatherings of people.
- Basic airfield safety, you can’t communicate with pilots. If you see any aircraft, move away and land immediately.
- Don’t film, photograph or record anyone without permission. These are exactly the same rules as with normal cameras and recording equipment.
The intent of the rules is to allow you to enjoy your drone safely and to prevent breaches of privacy.
Check Before You Fly
To make following the rules easier, CASA has released two programs. The ‘Can I Fly There’ app for your mobile device and droneflyer.com.au. Both of these programs provide the user with clear, simple maps of where you have the freedom to fly.
If you enjoy your drone, have you ever thought how much better it is to fly the real thing? Check out Bunbury Flying School’s website and learning how we can help you become a recreational pilot today.