Commercial pilots express concerns about Australia’s new drone laws

Published on : Monday, January 2, 2017

commercial-pilots-expressAustralia’s new drone laws have not gone down well with commercial pilots who say that the new laws raise the risk of fatal collisions between unmanned drones and passenger planes, China’s Xinhua news agency reported.


The new law states that drones two kilogrammes and lighter will no longer need approval to fly in public spaces. Drones will not, however, be allowed to fly within 5.5 kilometres of an airport and not within 30 metres of buildings.


In a submission to the Senate committee which is investigating the safety of the new drone laws, pilots from Qantas and Virgin Australia have asked the government to reconsider the law change.


In a Senate submission published by News Corp. on Friday, Qantas chief pilot Richard Tobiano said if the laws are relaxed, there will be more drone pilots flying their small, dangerous aircraft despite no training.


“Against this context, it would be opportune for the airline industry to confirm best-practice processes in managing the ramifications of an incident ahead of time,” Tobiano said in the submission.


He said if the laws were to stay, it would up to police and other law enforcement agencies to ensure untrained pilots are not breaking the laws and flying near airports, or too high, in order to minimise the threat to passenger flights.


“As with lasers and model rockets, this regime should involve education of – and strategic and tactical coordination between – state and federal law enforcement agencies, local government and CASA (Civil Aviation Safety Authority),” Tobiano said.


“Critically, it must also include a comprehensive suite of offence provisions and penalties to ensure general and specific deterrence.”

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