Drone survey is a step toward better ag regulations

Sheep Central, November 1, 2023

THE Civil Aviation Safety Authority is calling on producers using or intending to use drones for activities like mustering and spraying to help improve the regulatory framework.

CASA has released a survey asking producers a series of questions about the types of activities they do and the types of drones they operate to build a snapshot of how drones could be used in remote and low-risk settings. The survey is said to take about 10 minutes.

SkyKelpie’s Luke Chaplain is doing a Nuffield Scholarship and has done a series of studies looking into the use of drones in agricultural settings – particularly for the livestock industry.

He has been calling for a review of legislation to make drones more user friendly on stations, particularly in low-risk areas without many obstacles.

“Looking at this survey, it does seem like CASA is listening because they are now using words like mustering and spraying,” Mr Chaplain said.

“They are genuinely trying to engage producers and come up with ways of helping the situation. There is also an opportunity for them to gain more compliance with their rules through engaging like this.”

The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications, Economic benefit analysis of drones in Australia report estimates 10pc of agricultural business in Australia currently use drones to support operational processes. By 2040, it is forecast that agricultural drone adoption may significantly increase.

Mr Chaplain said the country had the chance to lead the field.

“Because of the nature of Australia, with a lot of it being so remote and low risk for drones, it can become a world leader in the development of the technology and regulations,” he said.

Line of sight rules could be streamlined

Drone pilots wanting to fly beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) need to have a license, a process Mr Chaplain said could become more streamlined.

“For the BVLOS permit you need to get your land approved as well and identify things like windmills and other obstacles,” he said.

“I think that process could become a lot more streamlined and possible even automated.”

Mr Chaplain said he would like to see more people getting involved with initiatives like the CASA survey to better direct future legislation.

“I’m looking to engage with CASA about streamlining these regulations in the next year,” he said.

“But the more people get involved, the better directed that legislation can be.”



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