Don’t turn your Christmas present into a firefighting menace
The increasing popularity of
drones in Western Australia has prompted a reminder to the community not to
unwittingly halt firefighting efforts this bushfire season.
Department of Fire and
Emergency Services (DFES) Assistant Commissioner Gary Gifford said drones had
proven to be popular Christmas gifts in recent years, but few were aware that
flying them near a bushfire could result in firefighting aircraft having to be
grounded or redirected for safety reasons.
"Flying drones near a
bushfire could create a dangerous situation not only for the pilots, but for
the firefighters on the ground and the public,” Assistant Commissioner Gifford
Gifford said firefighting aircraft operate in one of the most challenging
"They fly at around 200
kilometres per hour, often manoeuvring in poor visibility, close to each other
and to the ground and other obstacles - such as trees, radio masts and power
lines,” he said.
"Even a small drone
colliding or obstructing a bombing aircraft could have catastrophic results.
"If we see a drone we
will be forced to ground our aircraft, which would seriously hinder efforts to
bring a fire under control.
"There have already been
a number of close calls in the Eastern States this season, with aircraft having
to be redirected because a drone was in the area – we don’t want to see this
happen in WA.”
Drone pilots caught breaking
Civil Aviation Safety Regulations face fines of up to $9000.
Gifford reiterated the importance of keeping a safe distance from firefighting
aircraft when they are picking up water.
"We need the community
to keep a safe distance away to enable the aircraft to do their job, and I urge
people to never stand under the flight path of approaching or departing
aircraft, especially at areas where they are refilling with water as this can
be very dangerous,” he said.
If you see someone operating
a drone or remote controlled aircraft near a bushfire, report it to the nearest
firefighter or to WA Police on 131 444.
For more information about
the dangers of flying drones near bushfires visit the Civil Aviation Safety
Authority’s (CASA) website at www.casa.gov.au.
Media Contact: DFES Media
and Corporate Communications 9225 5955
CASA’s top drone tips
- Never fly
your drone within 30 metres of people and property.
- If drone
pilots see a low flying aircraft they must ground their drone immediately.
- Keep your
drone in your line of sight at all times.
- Never fly
your drone in a manner that causes a hazard to people, property or
aircraft at any time.
Notes to editor
estimates there are tens of thousands of drones in use across Australia,
with several thousand received as Christmas presents in 2016.
- In January
2017, a 20 hectare fire near New Norcia in the Midwest Gascoyne was caused
by a crashed drone.
- In March
2014, a Dash 8 charter plane narrowly avoided a collision with a drone at
Australian Transport Safety Bureau recently found the number of remotely
piloted aircraft accidents and incidents had increased significantly –
from 14 occurrences between 2006 and 2013 to 37 occurrences between 2014