News, Insights and Stories from the Australian and New Zealand tech ecosystem.

Brisbane City Council launches drone flying trial in 10 local parks

Brisbane City Council has this week launched a six month trial to allow the flying of drones in selected areas of 10 parks across the city, within regulations.

While pilots are able to fly drones and other remotely piloted aircraft from any council park without consent if it’s a children’s toy or weights less than 0.5 kilograms, the trial means they will now be able to fly drones and other remotely piloted aircraft weighing up to two kilograms from the selected parks.

However, under the trial they must be flying for recreational purposes, the aircraft must be electric, the aircraft must have propeller guards, and they must fly in a safe manner, following the rules set by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) for flying drones recreationally.

CASA regulates the flying of drones and other remotely piloted aircraft while they’re in the air, the council regulates their flying when they’re being launched from and landed in council land.

Among the parks selected to take part in the trial are The Common Park in Coorparoo, Preston Road Park in Carina, Voyager Drive Park in Kuraby, and Cliveden Park in Fig Tree Pocket.

With drones growing in popularity, CASA has been working to educate consumers about safe flying through initiatives such as its ‘Can I fly there?’ app, released earlier this year.

Developed in conjunction with Drone Complier, the app lists areas for flying as well as no-drone zones such as airports, and areas where emergency services such as firefighters may be operating.

Graeme Crawford, group manager of aviation at CASA, said, “We know people want to have fun with their drones. We want to help them do this safely by reducing the potential for them to fly their drone inadvertently in a way that might cause a threat to aircraft or other people.

‘This app will provide them with the relevant content and services they expect to have at their fingertips when out flying.”

The Brisbane trial comes after the launch of the Queensland Government’s Queensland Drones Strategy Consultation Paper in September, through which it is looking to generate public input to help grow the state’s drone industry.

As per the paper, the state government’s vision is for Queensland to become a world leader in both drone technology and application, creating a space where the technology can “complement and enhance” the lives of local communities.

However, there are significant challenges the industry faces as it pushes to grow, chief among them the regulatory frameworks.

Other challenges identified by the report include privacy issues related to drone use, which have expanded as the technology becomes more sophisticated, giving drones the ability to travel unnoticed, as well as the lack of commercial facilities in the state supporting drone testing.

In looking to address these challenges, the report also posed a number of questions around the drone industry and its future, including what the public’s vision of the drone industry is, what will drive growth in the space, who are they key players, how can the government assist in the issue, and how can the outlined challenges be navigated.

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