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Senator: Drones Could Lead To A “Catastrophe”

Senator Barry O’Sullivan has warned that drone usage in Australia could lead to a “catastrophe” if changes aren’t made to existing safety rules.

The former air crash investigator labelled existing drone safety rules as a “dog’s breakfast” and “non-existent”, and were “a catastrophe waiting to happen”, in an interview with The Australian Financial Review.

“We must get out in front of this so we can restore, as best we can, air safety,” Senator O’Sullivan said.

Estimates suggest the number of drones in Australia could be as high as 100,000.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has received over 700 complaints about drones in the past 12 months, and has issued 21 fines for misuse since the start of the year.

While drones are required to remain outside a 5.5km range of aerodromes based on existing CASA rulse, a Senate committee inquiry was told that around 180 near misses between drones and aircraft had been reported last year.

In response to the AFR, CASA spokesmen Peter Gibson said it had “no concerns” about the increase in drone usage in Australia.

However, he highlighted the benefits of education surrounding drone safety rules, and said it was a “positive way of ensuring the rules are understood”.

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