We received an email through our website earlier this week from a helicopter pilot that does training exercises in the same area that we are doing our UAV testing. He wanted to let us know about his activities, and make sure that we were operating safely. He wanted to ensure that our UAV was being operated in accordance to the regulations so as not to cause any risk to himself and his passengers.
We strive to have a firm understanding of the risks involved in our operations and the measures required to mitigate these risks so that we can operate safely. We were more than happy to respond to this enquiry and to share our approach to safety. We also invited him to share his thoughts and experience, and help us improve on our approach to safety.
All this got us thinking that we should be more open about to approach to safety, and so we have decided to share our response:
We are very mindful of the safety implications operating these machines, especially the risk to other users of airspace, and we take a very serious approach to this. The last thing anyone wants is a serious incident.
There is a robust regulatory framework for the commercial operation of UAVs – it will take nearly 6 months and a very serious approach to get a commercial Operator Certificate. However, because we are operating recreationally we are not required to obtain this certification, but must follow the same rules set out for model aircraft enthusiasts. Nonetheless we most definitely operate within CASA’s standard conditions:
- Below 400 ft
- Within visual line of sight
- Away from populated areas
- More than 3 nm from aerodromes or controlled airspace
You can read more about our risk management approach in our Technical Report, available here (pg 13). It would be great if you could have a look at this and let us know if there is any way we could improve this.
In addition to the regulations, it is good to be aware of other aviation activity in the areas we are operating, so it is good that you have reached out to us. Reviewing the NOTAM’s are a good way for us to understand aviation activities in the area of operation. You may also like to reach out to the local aero model club that operates in that area, if you haven’t done so already.