If this is the first year you take to the sky with a tiny camera, you’re advised to check out the rules, and they’ll even be in stores to help that.
There are lots of gadgets that can get people’s attention, from speakers that blast sound to things with flashing lights, but few cause people to stop and stare quite like a drone. They can sound like a chorus of bees making their way through the sky, and can even attract the insect depending on where they fly, but in Australia, a drone has rules it has to follow, and that might not be something all buyers know about.
As Australians embrace the holiday buying season and look for gadgets of all sorts for gifts, Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has chimed in this week with news that it has launched a campaign to make sure prospective drone pilots and the folks buying them these as gifts are aware of drone safety, as well as the rules where you can fly them.
To do this, the organisation has launched some in-store material with the help of retailers to make sure drone shoppers know that there are rules that apply to using drones, connected with a government website to help you “Know Your Drone”.
“Drones are great fun, and by following the simple rules everyone can enjoy the air together,” said Peter Gibson, spokesperson for CASA.
“Drones can be flown in metro areas and towns as long as they are flown in line with the safety rules,” he told Pickr, advising that the rules are to stay 30 metres away from other people, to not fly over groups of people, and to always keep the drone in your sight at all times.
“Naturally this does restrict drone use in heavily built up areas. But you can fly in open areas,” he said.
They’re rules not everyone knows or recognises, but have to be followed, as they help protect not just people and property, but also other aircraft, and it’s why retailers such as Officeworks and JB HiFi have become involved with the voluntary initiative.
“Safety is important to us at JB HiFi, so we are very proud to partner with CASA to provide the information required to safely fly a drone within Australian government guidelines, and to ensure that all current rules, regulations and flying zones are available to our customers,” said Cameron Trainor, Managing Director of JB HiFi.
CASA did tell Pickr that the number of people who know these rules isn’t as high as it probably needs to be, with around half knowing about the rules in Australia, something that is based on where you live and where you want to fly. For instance, if you’re living in Australia’s most populous city, the city of Sydney, you’re unlikely to take to the sky from your backyard if you have a large drone, but you might have more luck driving to an open space.
“Drone safety advocates have pledged to follow a specific set of guidelines when selling drones,” said Gibson.
“The guidelines ensure they are providing consumers with important safety information on when, where, and how they can use their drone safely — and stay within the law,” he said.
“Latest research shows 60 percent of people know there are drones rules and slightly fewer knew what some of the rules were. So about 50 percent of people have an awareness of the rules. Hence we must keep working at it.”