By Lachy Goshi

My local community newspaper had this somewhat positive UAV story on the front page this week – I thought it to be very interesting from the operator side of things.

The full article can be read in the online edition here: Wentworth Courier

Although technically not a very complicated task, and you would definitely want a HD transmission back to your ground station such as DJI’s Light-Bridge, to see any shark like objects in the water, there are still the usual safety and privacy concerns and public acceptance considerations also. One Councillor interviewed in the article thinks the same, although mainly about UAV’s primary public obstacle, Privacy:

Cr Betts also said concerns over the legality of using the drone technology had to be addressed.
“We do not want to just go out and sort of say we’re going to use a drone and then be attacked for invading people’s privacy.”

My main concern comes from the fact that the Mayor says she is in “negotiations with a drone operator“. To me, that indicates an authorised UAV Operator company that is on CASA’s List of UAS operator certificate holders. I have tried to do some research to determine who the prospective company may be to see if they are on the list and allowed to perform UAV flights commercially under Australian aviation rules. Also, having studied up and gaining my UAV Controller Certificate last year, I would love to get in contact with the company to see if I could get involved.

“We have had one little test with drones and we’re talking to the operator,” Cr Betts said. “We’d quite like to be a trial site for them.”

Although the article does not mention the name of the company they are discussing this “Shark Watch” program with, it does have an aerial photo supplied from “Robert Kaley”.

It’s a nice shot and it could be by our own member here on DIYDrones Robert Kaley?

I have dropped him a message and eager to find out!

A google search reveals that Robert works for BoxStudio where their website video’s are linked to Wellcom’s vimeo channel. At the end of one of the video’s, it also mentions StudioZoo as a member of the Wellcom group.

One of the other contacts on most of these company pages is Bob Street. Unfortunately the CASA List of UAS operator certificate holders does not have Bob, Robert, BoxStudio, Wellcom or StudioZoo on the approved list.

So it looks like we find ourselves in a position where a council is unaware of licensing requirements, have already had “tests” and I fear could turn this positive use of drones story into another “rouge operator” spying on beach goers field day.

Ofcourse I could be completely wrong in my assumptions here, and I haven’t had a response from Robert yet, I will pass on any information as it comes to light, but even if the above is hypothetical, surely it shows that the general population is simply unaware of the rules and this has to be addressed – by who?

What are peoples thoughts on unauthorised company’s seeking UAV jobs, especially in such a public location as Bondi Beach? Being a company, not a hobbyist or ignorant phantom flyer just getting a few happy snaps while back packing from Europe, surely should change our expectations of compliance?

How can both the customer (in this example a council) and the operator (for example a promotional business that see a good use for their tools and a new market outside of their daily business) be informed about the right way to do things and seek the proper approvals/licenses?

Source: DIY Drones

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