Australian DJI drone pilots face being grounded

From today, pilots of DJI drones, arguably the most popular brand in the country, will be required to pass a short “knowledge quiz” about safety in order to fly their machines.

Based on info on the CASA webs site, the quiz is now part of the mobile phone software used to control the drone.

Peter Gibson, corporate communication manager at the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), which has authorised the move, says DJI approached the agency to help design the nine-item test.

“The questions cover some of the essential drone safety requirements, things like how far you have to stay from other people, the maximum altitude you can take your drone to, how far you have to stay away from airports,” Mr Gibson said.

China-based DJI says it hopes the test will help educate operators on local flight rules, with the answers “easily found” on CASA’s website.

“The quiz was designed to give drone pilots up to four chances to skip, so that pilots who use their drones for emergency response or public safety applications, for example, won’t get hindered during use in emergency situations,” said Adam Welsh, DJI’s head of Asia Pacific Public Policy.

DJI has already introduced similar tests in the United States and the United Kingdom, based on those countries’ aviation regulations.

Until now, Australian operators have not been required to pass any test, either by a drone manufacturer or regulator.

“There’s been no requirement to go through a testing procedure because there is no licence [required to fly a drone],” Mr Gibson said.

“Nevertheless, it is essential that everyone who flies a drone understands the rules and follows them.”

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