CASA Warns Against 'Misusing' Drone Technology Ahead Of Xmas

20/12/2015 1:49 PM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
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Flying drone with stabilised camera

With thousands of Aussies tipped to get drones for Christmas, the nation's aviation authority is warning consumers not to misuse the aerial toys after a spate of reckless flying.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) on Sunday launched a new video aimed at educating drone users about safety rules, and warning that penalties apply for those who break them.

The campaign comes after a number of instances in which drones have been misused, including one high profile case where a drone was flown into the sails of the Sydney Opera House.

Authorities have previously said they have concerns about the use of drones, especially when they fly near bushfires.

"Key safety rules include always keeping your drone in sight and never flying at night, keeping at least 30 metres away from people, buildings and vehicles, not flying over crowds or groups of people and staying below 400 feet," CASA said.

CASA also said drones shouldn't get in the way of other aircraft.

"No-one should fly a drone in a way that causes a hazard to other aircraft," the agency said.

"Drones must not be flown anywhere near aircraft and should be grounded immediately if there are aircraft nearby.

"This means drones should not normally be flown anywhere near airports, helipads or any place an aircraft could be flying."

CASA’s Director of Aviation Safety, Mark Skidmore, said drones could cause grave injuries if flown in heavily populated areas.

In September, a US toddler was seriously hurt by shrapnel when a privately owned droned crashed near her stroller on a residential street.

"Although recreational drones are small they can cause injuries to people and they can be a real risk to the safety of other aircraft," CASA's Skidmore said.

While the peak aviation safety body is calling for Australians to follow the rules for flying drones, local laws remain much more relaxed than in the US.

Stricter rules were announced this week by the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration, with hefty fines and even imprisonment a possible result for those misusing drones.

CASA's warning on drones also follows the NSW Government's announcement earlier this year that the airborne gadgets would play a part in protecting beachgoers from sharks.

The deployment of shark-hunting was brought about by a string of devastating attacks on the mid north coast including a man who was bitten by a shark this month in East Ballina.

Drones are proving popular with consumers, government and business, including Amazon that recently revealed it was exploring uses for the technology.

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