‘Epic crashes’ show reason for drone rules

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YouTube may seem the unlikeliest of safety resources, but after a few views on the video sharing website one message becomes clear. There are some things it’s better to watch than attempt.

In this spirit, Flight Safety Australia presents the following compendium of drone crashes, with one caveat: don’t try this at home folks. It’s (mostly) illegal and dangerous.

It’s an entertaining video (for those not footing the bill for a new drone) but it also highlights why there are safety regulations for flying drones recreationally.

While most of this footage was captured in the United States and around the world, following Australian remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) safety regulations would have helped most of these owners stay out of trouble.

Collisions with people and buildings could have been avoided by the 30-metre rule, which states you must keep at least this distance (100 ft) away from people, buildings, and vehicles. Common sense, folks, would add ducks, goats dogs and other animals to this.

The 30-metre standard would’ve also ensured the two crashes involving the jet ski and the car passing closely by probably wouldn’t have happened.

The other obvious safety concern raised by this video was the use of first- person vision (FPV). Piloting an RPA via FPV is not permitted in Australia, as the operator is required to maintain line-of-sight with the aircraft.

The safety concept behind this is so the operator can see how the aircraft is situated within its surrounding environment. Having this perspective is a great way to avoid those pesky trees that seem to magically appear at the last second.

But perhaps the best lesson we can learn from the video is the need to maintain a certain level of situational awareness and common sense. Checking your battery levels, ensuring props are securely tightened and not flying in overtly risky situations (e.g. strong winds, high obstacles, areas close to animals) is a good start.

The problem with remote controlled flight is that the operator is semi-removed from the situation. Would these operators make the same decisions if they were on-board?

So next time you fly your RPA, stop and think about what could go wrong and risk-manage against it. A common-sense approach while abiding by the safety regulations will not only keep you in the air, but might end up saving you money.

More safety information can be found on the Civil Aviation Safety Authority’s website.

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