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30 September, 2021

Unwarranted attack on drone pilot

A recent incident at Cambooya has prompted a locally-based agricultural drone company to call on members of the public to be aware of the manner in which its aircraft operate.

Drone Commander principal Roger Woods demonstrating one of the organisation’s agricultural drones, which are used for spraying and are not equipped with cameras.

Earlier this month at Cambooya, one of the Drone Commander pilots was allegedly physically assaulted by two men who believed the drone was spying on them.

The attack reflected a misunderstanding of the type of drones used by the Cambooya-based company.

These agricultural drones are large, expensive pieces of equipment.

They do not have cameras on them, and are not designed or capable of any form of surveillance of people or their properties. 

A spokesperson said Drone Commander’s pilots attend clients’ properties for the purpose of completing agricultural work such as spraying weeds, or spreading mouse bait or seeds. 

“They are completing this work on request from the farmer/property owner,” the spokesperson said. 

“Our company and pilots always have permission to be flying the drones where they are. 

“We are fully licensed by CASA (Civil Aviation Safety Authority). 

“Agricultural technology like drones are only going to become more and more common in the future. 

“We ask the public to consider the reasonable grounds for which a drone may be flying before throwing objects at it, or attacking the pilot.”

Drone Commander is keen to ensure that people are aware of the type of activity in which its drones are involved.

“If you are curious about the drone or the work being completed, you are welcome to approach our pilots and watch from a safe distance - 30 metres away from the drone landing zone,” the spokesperson said. 

“We are happy to take phone calls and messages to explain the work we do and the strict regulations we have in place for all flight missions.” 

Under Section 24 of the Civil Aviation Act 1988, it is an offence to interfere with crew or aircraft in the course of the performance of their duties as a crew member. 

Interference, tampering with, or threatening the safety of an aircraft or crew member can result in legal action and carries the potential for a sentence of imprisonment. 

“Drone Commander is a small business which prides itself on delivering high-quality and innovative services,” the spokesperson said. 

“We strive to assist property owners with crop productivity and health. 

“So please, if you or others are concerned or interested in our line of work, just ask us. 

“Please do not resort to verbal or physical violence towards our pilots, or attempts to damage our equipment.”

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