Rise of the drones sparks fears of aviation disaster
A COMMERCIAL drone operator fears it won't be long before someone is killed by an increasing number of rogue users.
Aerial Advantage owner, Anthony Shorten, also warned there was a strong chance of a drone colliding with an aircraft.
"It is only a matter of time before one takes out a commercial airline or seriously injures someone."
The Civil Aviation Standards Authority has strict rules in place for the use of drones by commercial and recreational users.
But with drones easily and cheaply available on eBay and other stores, many could be unaware of the rules.
Sunshine Coast Daily photographer Warren Lynam snapped photographs of this drone at Alexandra Headland last weekend.
It is clearly flouting government regulation which prohibits the use of drones from flying overhead of the public, or within 30 metres.
There have been of spate of accidents involving the unmanned aircraft in the last few months, including the near collision of a drone in into an American Airlines aircraft in March.
A triathlete also sustained injuries when she was hit in the head by a drone, which fell from the sky in Geraldton, Western Australia in April.
Brisbane's Mr Shorten, who also does commercial work on the Sunshine Coast, said unfortunately it had "taken a couple of accidents" to make the public aware of the dangers.
"In Newcastle a couple of weeks ago an emergency chopper at a helipad at a hospital had to take evasive action to avoid a drone at night," Mr Shorten said.
"The problem is even the smaller $600 drones can be lost control of quite easily."
Drones were also prohibited to fly within three nautical miles of a commercial airport "which almost rules out the Sunshine Coast".
"The UAV we fly are about 10kg in weight and can move forward at 100km an hour. The smallest unit can take out a helicopter," Mr Shorten said.
"In 10 to 12 minutes, a drone can reach up to 3000 or 4000 feet and the problem with the cheaper Chinese units is that they can easily be lost control over."
CASA's Peter Gibson said there were penalties in place of up to $8000 when drones were proven to be a danger.
CASA has already fined one drone user $850 when his craft ended up on the Sydney Harbour Bridge's railway track.
Only one commercial user is licensed on the Sunshine Coast and 90 Australia-wide.
Mr Shorten said it was a lengthy, complicated and expensive process to become registered, but it was worthwhile.
His fear is that rogue operators could make drones completely illegal, as they are in the US.
General rules for drones:
Keep the UAV away from populated areas and the immediate vicinity of others (more than 30m)
Do not operate within 3nm (5.5km) of an aerodrome
Do not operate in controlled airspace above 400ft (123m)
Do not operate in military prohibited or restricted areas
Do not fly in poor visibility, clouds or at night
Consider the benefits of approved flying areas