Was 2020 the year drones crossed the tipping point?

With five times as many UAVs as helicopters, the industry must plan for a new future 

What does the CASA Annual Report 2019-20 tell us about the aviation industry? 
Globally, Australia has the third largest number of helicopter registrations. The emergency services rely on an extensive SAR and aeromedical fleet across Australia. The AW139 has become a popular aeromedical vehicle. Photo: Rob Rich, Rotorcraft Asia-Pacific Pty Ltd.

Overseas readers should note the Australian financial year concludes on 30 June. The chair of the CASA board, Anthony Mathews, stated 2019-20 was a year most of us will want to forget in a hurry. Signifi cant developments for the aviation industry in the last six months of 2019 were quickly overshadowed by Australia’s devastating bushfire crisis, closely followed by the catastrophic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Domestic and international travel as we knew it will never be the same. The consequences of coronavirus have crippled the regular public transport sector and a commitment to ensure the long-term recovery of this sector, and others, will require patience and resolve. The regulation of so many industry participants across a multitude of sectors is a large and important task. We are facing considerable uncertainty for the future and have had to take difficult but necessary measures to respond and prepare the industry for an extended period of doing business differently. I am pleased that CASA implemented significant relief measures for industry during the pandemic. 

Shane Carmody, chief executive and director of aviation safety, summarised CASA’s achievements in his report by stating: “At the beginning of the 2019–20 reporting period we had three remaining flight operations regulations to complete. I am pleased we were able have them signed by the Governor-General in late 2019, finalising the longstanding regulatory development program that I undertook to finish when I was appointed as chief executive officer/director of aviation safety. Over the past two years there has been an enormous amount of effort expended by CASA staff, the Aviation Safety Advisory Panel and the associated technical working groups, and the broader aviation industry to achieve this goal. I extend my sincere gratitude to you all. This is certainly a milestone in aviation safety.” 

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