CASA to trial automated digital approvals for commercial drone operators

The trial is aimed at reducing approval processing times so drones can be up in the air sooner.
Written by Campbell Kwan, Contributor

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), alongside Airservices Australia, on Wednesday announced a trial of a new digital, automated process that is aimed at expediting the approval processes of remotely piloted aircraft operations.

According to the organisations, the application process currently takes weeks to complete before commercial drone operators are allowed to take flight. With the trial, CASA and Airservices hope to create an application process that reduces the time required from weeks to seconds.

"Moving to digital approval processes is a key initiative for CASA, streamlining interactions and making it easier for operators," CASA acting-CEO and Aviation Safety director Graeme Crawford said.

The trial digital process will be delivered through CASA's remotely piloted aircraft systems digital platform, with Airservices and the Queensland University of Technology to develop designated maps that will be used to conduct the relevant analysis required for these automated authorisations.  

The trial will start at the end of next month and will take place at three aerodromes across Australia.

Drone uptake in Australia has been growing as late, with projects ranging from using drones for medical delivery in remote areas, to detecting illegal fishing operations, to even banks wanting to spray disinfectant from drones in schools and aged care being trialled across the country.

At the start of the year, the Victorian government also launched an aviation unit within Fire Rescue Victoria specifically dedicated to using drone technology to assist firefighters and other emergency services who are on the ground. 

Among the staff for the new unit are qualified CASA drone pilots and aviation accredited personnel. As part of standing up the new Fire Rescue Victoria unit, four new drones have been made available to Victorian firefighters, which they can deploy to gather aerial images of fires and other emergencies.

Related Coverage

Editorial standards