Stern warning to drone pilots to stay out of firefighters’ way


DFES officer John Landwehr and Capt Jackson Stapleton, from McDermott Aviation.
Picture: Robin Kornet         d464408
DFES officer John Landwehr and Capt Jackson Stapleton, from McDermott Aviation. Picture: Robin Kornet         d464408

AUTHORITIES have warned drone pilots they are risking a significant fine if they hinder firefighting efforts this bushfire season.

Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) assistant commissioner Gary Gifford said flying drones near a bushfire could create a dangerous situation for pilots already operating in a challenging environment.

“Firefighting aircrafts fly at around 200km/h, often manoeuvring in poor visibility, close to each other, the ground and other obstacles such as trees, radio masts and power lines,” he said.

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“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.”

The assistant commissioner said close calls interstate had led to aircraft being redirected.

“We don’t want to see this happen in WA,” he said. “We need the community to keep a safe distance away.”

Drone pilots caught breaking Civil Aviation safety regulations could be slapped with a $9000 fine.

For information visit www.casa.gov.au.