Drones deployed to support life-saving services on Australian beaches

Drones will be used for beach safety, coastal surveillance, search and rescue and sports videos on Australia’s beaches in 2020, according to a report in the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) Flight Safety publication. The drones will support lifeguards in busy coastal areas, and operators will wear distinctive red-and-yellow outfits.

Surf Life Saving NSW, with support from the Department of Primary Industries and Westpac, operates the drones. The organisation’s drone pilots are a new breed of ‘dry’ lifesaver who need not have any swimming ability to go on patrol. The pilots come from diverse backgrounds and include Qantas A380 pilots and people with little or no aviation background. Safety is paramount and all of the organisation’s operators must undergo a two-day training program in UAV operations and safety.

Paul Hardy, UAV Operations Coordinator and Chief Remote Pilot, says drones were initially introduced to complement the organisation’s other assets. ‘With the increase in technology, they’re becoming an essential part of our search and rescue services,’ he says. The company operates 70 drones from around 50 locations. When operating drones on busy beaches, the organisation works with the public to achieve the CASA requirements of keeping people 30 metres away from the machine.

(Image: Surf Life Saving)

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