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February 2, 2021

Taking flight: See how Australian drone flyers are taking to the sky

  • , Australia
  • , drones
  • , OpenSky
  • , UTM

 

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The OpenSky app is designed to support drone flyers to easily identify where they can and cannot fly across Australia, whether flying for work or for fun. In the past year, drone operators have used OpenSky to plan ahead for their flights, so they can fly with confidence. Glenn, Breanna, Harshil and Amy are just some of the many thousands of Australian drone flyers, both recreational and commercial, using OpenSky to safely access the sky. 


Introducing Glenn.

Glenn Griffin manages a team of commercial pilots and an aircraft fleet, responsible for the maintenance of radio transmission towers. Working in the telecommunications field for more than a decade, Glenn recognises the potential of drone technology to support the industry. 

“It’s just easier and safer to identify faults by using the drone rather than having someone climb a pole that potentially has live wires on it. It could take an entire day just to drive to a site and back - having the ability to send someone local to do a drone inspection first is a big time saver for the team.”

Despite the time saving, Glenn’s team found they were spending hours planning flight missions in unfamiliar and remote locations. This involved doing both research on aviation regulations on CASA's website and contacting local airports or farm owners to confirm no-fly zones that weren’t mapped or accessible online. 

Motivated to find an alternative, Glenn discovered the OpenSky app and it’s now become a part of their drone pilot training.

“It has changed the way we work. OpenSky is really instrumental and it’s saved having to do an hour’s worth of research the day before a flight. You can just open the app and [the information] is there. You know whether you can fly or not.”

*Always check with your local flight rules to determine if it's safe to fly


Introducing Breanna.

For recreational drone enthusiast Breanna Landwehr, her journey started with her role as a youth educator at the not-for-profit organisation Youth Express. Breanna helps introduce students to emerging technologies and related career pathways.

“There’s 1200 people in my really small town (Karuah) in a regional area where kids don’t have access to technology -- about 30% don’t even have access to the internet.”

Inspired by innovation in drone technology, Breanna developed a workshop that provides students with hands-on experience being a pilot-in-command using recreational drones. However, Breanna found it challenging to deliver easily accessible and relevant drone safety information to students that didn’t involve highly technical language. To navigate this complexity, Breanna provides her students with tablet devices to access the OpenSky app so they are able to use it to review the checklist, as a pre-flight requirement.

“[OpenSky] provides talking points on risk assessment, data privacy and security issues, and complicated issues that [students] may not understand. [OpenSky] delivers it in a very simple way so that they can discuss and work through potential issues together.”


Introducing Harshil.

Harshil Shah started as a recreational flyer, using his first drone to capture aerial photos of landscapes while on holiday. As a student looking for part-time work, Harshil realised he could use his aerial photography skills to support real estate clients, which led him to getting his commercial operator certificate.

“I take low-level pictures of a client’s house and stitch the images together to generate a map for the inspection report. It’s a lot safer than having a homeowner get on their own roof and take photos with their smartphone.”

With limited access to relevant information, Harshil was often unsure if he needed to apply for flight approvals, or if CASA airspace restrictions were likely to impact his ability to service clients located in built-up urban environments.

To find answers, he turned to online searches, digital forums, and reaching out to drone operators in his network, but found it challenging to find accurate information. With OpenSky, Harshil is now able to more easily access flight safety information he needs to confidently conduct drone operations and service his clients.

"I take low-level pictures of a client’s house and stitch the images together to generate a map for the inspection report. It’s a lot safer than having a homeowner get on their own roof and take photos with their smartphone.”


Introducing Amy.

Amy Steiger didn’t always plan on becoming a spatial mapping pilot. When she first joined Cardno, a global leader in infrastructure, environmental and social development projects, Amy worked in the geographic mapping team. When the company began building a team of in-house drone pilots, and investing in a fleet of advanced mapping drones, it piqued her interest. 

“I received a scholarship from work to use towards professional development training. I used it to do my remote pilot license course... and slotted into the [drone] team at the right time."

Prior to using OpenSky, Amy’s background in mapping enabled her to generate internal web maps for other drone pilots to reference. “Kind of like our own flight planning tool, but we knew it wasn’t authoritative data, more of a rough guide,” she says. Information on the tool was limited and difficult to update in real-time. With OpenSky, drone flyers like Amy can be kept up to date if conditions change while on a job.


We love hearing how Australian drone flyers are using OpenSky to help safely navigate the skies. Australian users can download the OpenSky app on Google Play or the App Store, or access the web version on desktop. For more information visit wing.com/opensky or sign up for the latest news and updates from OpenSky at wing.com/dronenews.