Australia on the verge of Drones 2.0

Drones have secured their place in Australian organisations as a business-critical tool. To date most operations have occurred within the Visual Line of Sight of the Remote Pilot, requiring a skilled Remote Pilot to be at the same location as the drone. But all this is set to change.

One of the hurdles to progress into operations Beyond the Visual Line of Sight of the Remote Pilot has been the requirement to pass the IREX exam, a difficult exam designed for an airline pilot. The need to pass this exam has been a significant barrier to entry and has held back the industry’s full potential.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) recently announced a drone-specific exam for Beyond Visual Line for Sight operations. The new exam creates a relevant pathway for organisations wanting to operate Beyond Visual Line of Sight. It is expected the exam will become available in the coming weeks.

“The new exam makes Beyond Visual Line of Sight attainable for all operators, not just the exclusive few”

The timing of the drone-specific exam could not be any better with leading drone manufacturers bringing drone dock technology into Australia. A drone dock allows remote access to a drone allowing Remote Pilots to access the drone from anywhere in the world. The drone self-charges within the dock, ready to fly at the push of a button.

“The concept of operating drones remotely isn’t new; equitable access to technology and regulatory pathways is driving the revolution. ”

Skydio demonstrated its drone in a box solution at the Sydney Dialogue, a policy summit on emerging technologies. The drone, piloted from the convention centre, was located on Goat Island in the middle of Sydney Harbour. Attendees were wowed by the drone’s ability to use computer vision to safely fly down to 11 centimetres of infrastructure before revealing and identifying the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The technology can schedule the same flight autonomously without human intervention.

DJI has also released their drone in a box solution for the DJI M30 with demonstrations taking place around the country preparing the order list.

“Enabling drone manufacturers and operators to utilise drone technology to the extent of its capability within the Australian regulatory framework is key to what we do at Aviassist.”

Drone Operators must still gain approval from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority before conducting operations Beyond the Visual Line of Sight. Following a known and published pathway, the approval process has matured significantly in recent years. Coupled with industry exemptions for IREX, the time has arrived for Beyond Visual Line of Sight operations at scale.

The combination of improvements has opened accessibility to advanced drone operations setting the scene to expand current drone use and change who, where and how people work with drones.

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