Once the only things in the skies were natural aviators such as birds, bats and insects, human inventions such as balloons, airplanes, helicopters, missiles and spacecraft. In more recent times we have seen the emergence of the RPA - or in layman's terms - The Drones Cometh!
Did you know that an RPA (Remote Pilot Aircraft) is actually regarded as an aircraft under Federal Law, with similar rights and regulations as larger, more commonly known forms of aircraft?
Drones are gaining in popularity at a rapid rate. With advances in technology and flying systems drones are no longer only in the realms of the professional aerial stills photographer and/or the more elite aerial videographer. They have become more readily available to the novice - be that photography amateur, techno geek, or just your average home-grown consumer.
Until September last year the rules around operating drones were restricted and helped limit them to only those with the spare cash to spend on a “new toy” or the need to own one for business purposes (or both!). Since then CASA (Civil Aviation Safety Authority) has relaxed the rules and opened up the industry to many more operators - potentially in the tens of thousands! #WhatCouldPossiblyGoWrong?
HOW MANY PLASTIC BIRDS ARE THERE?
It is estimated that over 50,000 “recreational” drones exist in Australia (Statistics presented by CASA to the Senate Rural & Regional Affairs & Transport Legislation Committee review into Drones). There are currently 1,068 RPA Operators with their Remote Operators Certificate (Highest Level of licensing, as per CASA website). It’s uncertain as to the exact number of commercial drones being operated currently. Somewhere between 1,068 and 50,000? Just a stab in the dark.
To operate commercially, you are limited to a drone under 2 kilograms. You don’t need to have a licence, but you are restricted to where and how you operate. This has opened the door to many commercial operators - however it is NOT a free range “Get Out of Jail Free Card” to operate wherever and whenever you like. Many operators undertake PROFESSIONAL TRAINING and are QUALIFIED with a Remote Pilot Licence (RePL) and registered with CASA. This allows them to operate larger RPA and operate under less restrictions, but the basic rules of operations still exist.
IS THE SKY THE LIMIT?
With the advances in technology the smaller drones are becoming more readily available and with more bells, whistles and capabilities. Photo quality has improved and the types of cameras carried are more varied.
As with the technological development of mobile phones the drone batteries are becoming smaller, lighter and lasting longer which allows a longer flight time. This means the average drone can cover a bigger area without having to recharge. Operators are more likely to be able to afford multiple batteries as they become cheaper, resulting in several back-to-back flights as batteries are swapped out and the drone sent back up.
As drones have become more popular their usefulness and value to a wider audience has increased. They are being used in agriculture, surveying, real estate, architecture, search and rescue operations and life saving situations. There are still many potential areas and industries to be explored by drones. We’ve not yet seen the full expansion of their capacity.
The world of the drone operator for the most part is a positive world. Yes there are a few “cowboys” out there, who push the limits and break the rules, but you get that in every industry and occupation. I’m not going to highlight this by linking to any online videos. Trust me, the idiots are out there, doing stupid things, filming and posting.
There is a good side though.
THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY
There is both the Good and the Bad (and definitely the Ugly) in the drone industry, just like every other industry. There are the rogue elements, the criminals and downright con-artists.
When it comes to the drone industry you pretty much get what you pay for. As I was told by a very wise and wealthy man, “If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys!”. The same holds true with drone technology.
Take the time to ask your questions of the operator, or the licence holder. If you’re a business or land owner, now is the time for you to think outside the square to get that competitive edge. Given drones have developed a bad reputation in general, many industries are hesitant to investigate the possibilities. Why not take that leap? Others have done so and proven to be very beneficial to their industry and directly to their business bottom line.
ON CLOUD 9 WITH QAP
“What can your drone services do for my business?” Contact QAP for a chat and either a desktop or live demonstration. We know you will be on Cloud 9 with the outcome.