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NYE drone show cancelled over safety concerns

written by Hannah Dowling | January 7, 2022

Plans for a New Year’s Eve drone light display at Melbourne’s Docklands were scrapped just days before the event, after CASA raised safety concerns.

Prior to the event, on 29 December, Melbourne lord mayor Sally Capp announced that the planned display would no longer proceed, citing COVID-19-related impacts on freight, logistics and training.

However, according to a report by the Herald Sun, the show was instead cancelled by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, due to the display not meeting adequate safety standards, and therefore not receiving the necessary regulatory approval.

The light display, organised by UK-based drone art company Celestial, was planned to include 350 drones in total, flying in formation over Victoria Harbour, taking on the shape of animals, faces, words and more.


CASA confirmed that an application was placed to perform such a display, by a holder of a “remotely piloted aircraft operator’s certificate”, however, the application was ultimately rejected by the regulator.

“For large displays such as this, we conduct a number of checks to ensure the display complies with our safety regulations, including assessing the applicant’s risk assessments,’’ a CASA spokesperson told the Herald Sun.

“Unfortunately, this year’s New Year’s Eve drone light display in Melbourne did not meet the required standards.’’

Cr Capp specified this week that her previous comments regarding freight and logistic delays was correct and clarified that such delays impacted the drone pilots’ abilities to train, and thus impacted Celestial’s regulatory approval.

Meanwhile, the show is planned to return to the Docklands, once approvals are organised.

“We’re pleased that Celestial now has all the equipment they need here in Melbourne, and they’re working around the clock to deliver the spectacular mass drone swarm above Docklands – and we hope to make an announcement soon,” Cr Capp said.

Celestial says its drone light displays could soon surpass the world’s best firework displays for special events and new years’ celebrations. The Somerset-based company highlights that drones are cheaper, manoeuvrable, and “can be used again and again”.

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Comments (3)

  • Mitchell


    Stupid idea in the first place.
    Covid sure seems to have brought out ‘nutty’ ideas from some humans’.

    Drones’ have proven to be dangerous to actual proper aircraft, particularly as most people who own them don’t care about safety, &/or don’t know what they’re actually doing.

    Imagine having these foolhardy airborne things falling on people, or buildings.

    Enough with such nonsense!

    • Rob


      Professional UAV (Drone) operators work to similar regulations as pilots of “regular” aircraft.
      They certainly know what they are doing. The company has safely flown such displays over many
      of the World’s cities. My main concern is of the original comments by Lord Mayor Sally Capp,
      blaming other reasons for the cancellation, rather than the fact that the event had not received
      approval from the Government authority. The planned event for NYE should never have even been
      announced before approval from the required authority had been granted.

  • Aminta Hennessy


    STATEMENT: “Drones’ have proven to be dangerous to actual proper aircraft, particularly as most people who own them don’t care about safety, &/or don’t know what they’re actually doing.” That statement is simply not true. Professional drone operators do know what they are doing and conduct their activities very professionally within the rules laid down by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority. It is the drone operators who buy a drone, do not stick to rules, do not follow the laid down training and do not stay outside airport environments at the published legal distances.

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