Drones are expected to be a popular gift this Christmas, but an accredited Port Stephens drone pilot is warning the public that there are responsibilities that come with drone ownership.
If not flown properly, drones can pose risks to people, property and aircraft.
Fines of up to $10,000 can be imposed for breaches of drone safety regulations, which is why Jackie Dujmovic from the Port Stephens-based drone company Hover UAV said it was important people logged onto droneflyer.com.au and download the Can I Fly There? app as soon as they received one.
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“The Tomaree Peninsula (Bay area) is one of the hardest spots to fly in because there is so much restricted air space,” Mrs Dujmovic said.
“It’s important for safety of the operator and other people like friends and family to know how to control your drone, where’s safe to fly and to be aware of privacy.”
While not discouraging drones as gifts, Mrs Dujmovic, who is a fully licensed drone pilot, said there is more that goes along with owning one that just setting up and flying it, especially in the Nelson Bay area.
Due to the number of heliports in the area – spaces where helicopters are cleared to land – plus defence force operations, there are restrictions on the air space across the Peninsula.
These concerns have been echoed by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
But CASA’s director of aviation safety, Shane Carmody, said teaching people to stay safe in the skies with a drone is easy.
“The key drone rules are really simple – stay more than 30 metres from people at all times, never fly within 5.5 kilometres of major airports, never put aircraft at risk, keep your drone in your sight at all times and stay below 120 metres,” he said.
“CASA wants everyone to have fun with their drones but we need to make sure the safety rules are followed.
“Parents and carers have a responsibility to teach their kids about drone safety and to supervise flights until it is clear the kids know how to fly safely.”
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The drone flyer website and app contains need to know information for operators.
Covered on the website and app is the rules for flying drones including respecting people’s privacy, where you can and cannot fly, best practice tips and tricks, safety videos by CASA, how to report unsafe flying, resources and a quiz.
Mrs Dujmovic recommended that drone owners brush up on their knowledge and took the quiz before flying.
She also said the website was valuable for the public who may have concerns about drones, and potential breaches of privacy.
“The best thing the do is download the app, jump on the website and do the quiz. It’s important for safety,” Mrs Dujmovic said.