Drone guidelines give DMIRS a lift

Release of operational outline supports drone program performance
Date: Monday, 08 April 2019

A remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) program will help the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) meet the challenges of working in an increasingly complex environment.

Picture of a mine opening taken by a drone.

The release of the RPA Operational Procedure ensures the department operates its unmanned aircraft safely and lawfully for activities including geological mapping, abandoned mine site investigations and rehabilitation performance.

Acting Executive Director Resource and Environmental Compliance, Karen Caple said DMIRS developed its operational procedure in consultation with other government agencies and leading energy companies.

“Using unmanned aircraft involves risks, so our endorsed operational procedure will help DMIRS identify, assess, and where appropriate, manage issues that may arise during our RPA activities,” Ms Caple said.

“The procedure will also ensure we operate all RPA’s in accordance with the relevant legislative requirements.”

The operational procedure outlines a range of strategies for the pre-flight phase through to the demobilisation phase, and includes job-safety analysis, incident reporting and regular maintenance schemes.

Ms Caple explained that unmanned aircraft are a dynamic technology with constantly changing capabilities, so the department would monitor and review its RPA operational procedure as required.

“Innovation is a key part of what we do, so we look forward to tracking RPA developments and assessing the unique advantages the technology can deliver,” Ms Caple said.

“Most importantly, our drones allow us operate safely and efficiently – such as being able to access previously inaccessible areas to obtain quality data. This is a major benefit given much of the work we do is in remote locations.

“I’m sure it will benefit our field officers in particular, as our drones will allow them to cover huge amounts of territory where the data collection used to be done on foot.”

DMIRS’ RPA project started several years ago, and included a thorough analysis and trial of RPA capabilities. The department now has two drones and a number of fully-licensed operators.