At a recent meeting of Rotary Nowra, the members were treated to a most enlightening and interesting presentation on an overall perspective of remotely piloted aircraft.
This talk was given by club member Rotarian Phil Presgrave, who was involved with unmanned operations approvals and regulatory development in the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) before his retirement.
This talk was a follow-up to that given by Total RPA to provide further background about unmanned aviation.
Many people believe that unmanned aircraft are a new invention, but unmanned aviation has been in existence for almost 100 years when remotely piloted aircraft were used in World War I. About this time the term ‘drone’ was coined.
Engineers were debating a name to call their radio-controlled aerial target that was based in the Tiger Moth aircraft. They proposed to call it a ‘Queen Bee’ but some army colonel of the day said ‘That’s not a Queen Bee – that’s a drone’ – or so the story goes. And so the name stuck.
Since then, the term ‘drone’ has been used to denote all types of unmanned aircraft; to such an extent, that it, in the view of the presenter, has portrayed all of the negative aspects of unmanned aviation – missile strikes on enemy forces, crashes into the Sydney Harbour Bridge, near misses with passenger jets, injuries to people - to name but a few instances.
Their recent use in commerce has largely been as a result of easier access to mass produced technology, at cheaper costs, that have flowed from both the military and hobby industries. As a result, the proliferation of small remotely piloted aircraft has been witnessed in the community.
Now, using small unmanned aircraft in legally sanctioned operations, with trained pilots and crews (albeit they are remote from the aircraft), benefits to industry and society that stem from activities such as surveying, vegetation monitoring, fire-fighting support, pollution monitoring, mine site surveys, electricity powerline and powerpole surveys, law enforcement, surf lifesaving – the list goes on – are being realised.
Unfortunately, these benefits to the community have largely been ignored; and any reports are usually about ‘drones’.
Any people thinking about buying and flying a remotely piloted aircraft, whether it is to be used as a model or for operations, should contact CASA (www.casa.gov.au) or their local model aircraft club.