Drone use on Poatina Road, Central Highlands

Tasmania Police is responding to reports of a drone being operated in a bushfire-affected area on Poatina Road, Central Highlands.

Firefighting operations rely heavily on the use of helicopters and other aircraft and any use of drones in the vicinity presents a risk to manned aviation.

Water bombing aircraft need to fly at low altitudes, a task made more difficult with the added risk of a drone strike. Essentially, if you fly a drone they can’t fly at all.

Drone operators must be aware of the rules surrounding the use of unmanned aircraft, particularly those that restrict flying where emergency operations are under way.

Any breach of these rules could result in prosecution.

Drones cannot be operated in a way that creates a hazard to another aircraft, person or property. Unless approved, drones also must not fly within 5.5km of an aerodrome or helicopter landing site. During emergency operations, many landing sites are temporary and negligent drone operators run the risk of breaching this requirement. If a drone pilot becomes aware of aircraft operating, they should immediately stop flying.

Recreational drone pilots should consult the CASA “Can I fly there?” app but be aware that it may not display temporary helicopter landing sites. The CASA website contains guides to the rules and links to associated legislation: www.casa.gov.au/aircraft/landing-page/flying-drones-australia

Please consider the safety of pilots who are flying at risk, protecting the Tasmanian community.