DRONE DOWN: Licensed drone operator Mic Deacon preparing his drone while in the background an Army Blackhawk helicopter passes low overhead at Tyagarah Beach.
DRONE DOWN: Licensed drone operator Mic Deacon preparing his drone while in the background an Army Blackhawk helicopter passes low overhead at Tyagarah Beach. Christian Morrow

Droning on about vital air safety

PROFESSIONAL drone operator Mic Deacon is concerned that cowboy operators are giving his industry a bad name and may one day cause an air accident.

Byron Shire News met Mr Deacon out near Tygarah Beach this week and while there an army Blackhawk helicopter flew low over the beach.

The Blackhawk was in no danger from Mr Deacon's drone, but it demonstrated how an inexperienced drone operator could easily stray into the wrong airspace and cause problems for smaller aircraft or parachutists.

"People are flouting the law,” Mr Deacon said.

"It's dangerous nonetheless, I mean we have seen large aircraft brought down by bird strikes.

"Imagine the situation where a drone rips into a Tyagerah skydiver or hits an emergency helicopter.”

Mr Deacon is concerned anyone can buy a drone and fly it over the beach, over people and over surfers in the ocean.

"That is totally illegal, not to mention the privacy issues it brings up,” he said.

"I have major issues with non-licensed and non-compliant drone operators who buy one, charge it up and then fly it with no knowledge of the CASA regulations, nor of the potential consequences.”

He is calling on CASA to apply the same strict standards of training and safety to amateur drone operators as he has to operate under.

"I have undertaken comprehensive training at a CASA-accredited flight school to obtain a Remote Pilots Licence for unmanned aerial vehicle and Aeronautical Radio Operators certificate which enables me to communicate with air traffic control and read maps to identify danger zones, helicopter pads, parachute drop zones and be aware of specific distance restrictions,” he said.

"As for anyone who feels their privacy is being invaded by overhead drone operation, call CASA or the police and report the activity.”