A WORLD-FIRST safety and risk-management standard for drones aims to reduce significantly the number of accidents and become a baseline requirement for operators.
Unmanned Aircraft Systems International released the standard at this week’s Australian International Airshow in partnership with the Nine Network and insurer QBE. UASI chairman Ron Bartsch said the new standard met the latest International Civil Aviation Organisation guidance material.
The move comes as the number of licensed unmanned aircraft system (UAS) operators in Australia has risen dramatically from about 20 two years ago to more than 200 today, and the local industry is expected to grow tenfold over the next decade.
The move reflects practices in airline and business aviation, where the adoption of standards have shown an increase in safety and a reduction in accident rates.
Mr Bartsch, a former head of Qantas safety, said the global regulatory framework was struggling to keep up with changes in technology, and national aviation authorities were still developing individual state safety programs.
He said the standards meant customers engaging approved drone operators for work such as aerial photography, media, surveying and firefighting could be confident due diligence had been carried out. Drone operators who meet and maintain the standards will be offered reduced insurance premiums through QBE, a dedicated UAS underwriter.
“We’ve invested heavily to build significant expertise in the UAS areas and have been working closely with the industry to determine how we can best manage the issues the rapid and unregulated growth in this segment is creating,’’ said Julian Fraser, the insurer’s aviation national relationship manager.