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CASA releases five new drone safety apps

written by Isabella Richards | November 11, 2021
Google Wing drones pick up packages from the roof of the Grand Plaza mall in Logan, Queensland.

Australia’s aviation regulator has released five new drone flyer apps to keep users updated on important information, restricted airspace and danger areas.

The Civil Aviation Authority Australia (CASA) said the new verified apps will give users “location-based information” about where drones can fly based on safety rules.

The developers of the five new apps include Aerologix, AirAssess, AVRCM, Flyanra and FlyFreely. They join three previous apps previously endorsed by CASA.

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“It is exciting to bring on additional new apps for the growing drone community,” Sharon Marshall-Keeffe, CASA’s acting Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems branch manager said.

“Commercial operators will find the apps useful for planning, getting an airspace authorisation near a controlled aerodrome, and conducting and recording their operations.

“They clearly define the location of restricted airspace, major obstacles, airports and danger areas,” Marshall-Keeffe added.

CASA introduced an app in collaboration with software company Drone Compiler in 2017 called “Can I fly there?” to boost safety around the industry.

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But in 2019, the regulator retired the app, which was plagued with several issues including inaccurate data, leading to CASA launching collaborations with third-party app developers.

CASA said its remotely piloted aircraft systems applications are an “innovative approach” to utilise external companies for delivering drone users safety information.

Over the past few years, especially since the pandemic forced thousands of pilots out of a job, the use of drones has continued to surge.

Studies suggest the Australian drone industry will soon contribute around $5.5 billion to the nation’s economy, and by 2040, it could rise up to $14.5 billion.

Due to the rise, figures of accident reports have inevitably climbed and data from the ATSB shows there were 194 “near encounters” between drones and manned aircraft in 2020, up from the 87 recorded in 2016.

In July, CASA mandated that all commercial drones weighing over 500 grams would incur a $40 registration fee to keep operators accountable for incidents and encourage safe operations.

“With Australians flying drones in record numbers, these apps play an essential role assisting people to fly within the rules,” Marshall-Keeffe said.

“Before taking flight, drone operators should check CASA-verified drone safety apps to access accurate information about where they can and can’t fly.”

Drone pilots can face a fine of up to $11,000 for breaching drone safety regulations, CASA says.

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