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Drone testing range headed for central NSW after new partnership

written by Staff reporter | February 7, 2022

The New Zealand Aerospace Challenge has been launched. (New Zealand Aerospace Challenge website)

German aircraft manufacturer Flight Design and the Bland Shire Council in the NSW Riverina region have partnered in order to develop Australia’s second “drone range”.

The drone range will be the first of its kind in NSW and will be used to test and develop new drone technologies and improve existing technologies, bringing jobs and investment to the West Wyalong region.

Following the announcement, Flight Design now manages three new drone operating sites around West Wyalong following successful environmental approvals.

Of the three sites, large, winged long-distance drones will be able to operate from the airport, while a 700-acre farm with radio capabilities will facilitate rotary blade vehicles and swarms. It is expected that a large lake with “20km x 10km range” will also be utilised as an additional drone testing site.

According to a release from Bland Shire Council, the range facilities are currently operational, with the range’s inaugural customer working in the defence industry and operating under Defence Aviation Safety Authority (DASA) regulations.

The pair has confirmed that drone flights can also be launched from high altitude balloons at the three sites. However, an additional site under consideration near Canberra is unlikely to be able to facilitate high altitude balloon launches.

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Flight Design has welcomed collaboration with other firms to support the development of uncrewed systems and can support both CASA and DASA approvals.

Bland Shire hopes that the new drone testing facilities will make the region a centre of excellence for drone research for farm and business applications, with a number of locals working in drone range safety roles. In fact, the drone facility at West Wyalong has been designed to provide the tools and mechanical support needed for drone maintenance.

Currently, Flight Design specialises in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) drones that are designed to fly at 60,000 feet and above enemy sensors.

Article courtesy of Defence Connect.

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