The ACT Equestrian Association has been talking to various government agencies about the problems experienced by horse owners with irresponsibly flown recreational drones.
There are now many thousands of these things in the Australian community and not all of them are flown responsibly. While the Commonwealth Aviation Safety Authority has responsibility for our airspace they cannot police it all and tend to concentrate on keeping airports, helicopter bases and high security sites protected. They also have very limited capacity to prosecute those who break the rules.
There are protocols for flying recreational drones and they can be found on the CASA site at https://www.casa.gov.au/modelaircraft. They have also recently created a dedicated website called Droneflyer (https://droneflyer.com.au/) in an attempt to educate users. CASA has also developed relationships with most of the foreign manufacturers of the drones imported into Australia so that they arrive accompanied by a copy of the Australian drone operational guidelines.
At a recent meeting also attended by pony club and horse paddock representatives ACTEA discussed with CASA the issue of operator education and the safety for both horses and rider, especially the apparent lack of any references to the safety of animals in the CASA drone protocols.
CASA have undertaken to contact the ACT Government to explore the possibility of including an online pdf of their drone brochure with Active Canberra’s e-bulletin which goes to all sporting organisations in the ACT, many of whose members will be drone owners.
CASA has also undertaken to seek management approval to clarify the definition of ‘property’ to include livestock in the Safety Promotion Flying for Fun brochure. They will also look at possible drone animation for their website with a focus on the dangers of flying a drone specifically above horses (any volunteers for that!?).
ACTEA is also interacting directly with Project Wing, the commercial drone delivery trial which has now moved to Tuggeranong. As a commercial operation Project Wing is far more tightly controlled than recreational drones. So far, attempts to organise a demonstration of the much larger commercial drone in operation have been unsuccessful.