(news.com.au)– AUSTRALIAN drone pilots will be forced to pass a quiz before taking to the skies under a new initiative launched by the world’s largest drone maker tomorrow.
The mandatory exam, created by DJI in conjunction with Australia’s Civil Aviation and Safety Authority, will automatically appear in the app used to fly its drones and follows a risky year for Australian drone users in which 32 were issued fines and “hundreds” received written safety notices for flying the devices in a dangerous manner.
DJI Asia Pacific public policy head Adam Welsh said the company launched the drone flight exam to ensure new users knew how to legally fly drones in Australia and didn’t give the technology a bad reputation.
“The majority of our users are flying in a safe and responsible manner but this is just to make sure everyone understands the rules,” he said.
“Not everyone might have looked at the CASA rules.”
Pilots will be required to correctly answer all nine questions in the DJI Go or Go 4 app before launching their drone, and the quiz will also be posed to foreign flyers who use DJI drones while visiting Australia.
“If you come to see the Commonwealth Games, for example, once you activate the app it will detect you’re in Australia and prompt you to take the quiz,” Mr Welsh said. “Everyone should know the rules.”
Australia will be the third country to receive the DJI pre-flight quiz, after the Chinese firm launched similar tests in the United States in October and United Kingdom last December.
CASA spokesman Peter Gibson said the Authority welcomed the rules reminder, particularly as the number of drones flown in Australia skyrocketed last year.
“It should reinforce to everyone who owns a drone that there are responsibilities that come with that and one them is understanding the laws around flying drones,” he said.
“Most people who fly drones do so recreationally and they’re not required to have a pilot’s licence and there’s no registration system.”
Mr Gibson said CASA issued a record 32 fines for dangerous drone use in Australia last year, and sent out “hundreds” of warning letters to users who appeared to have broken the rules.
Incidents included a drone flown dangerously close to children at an Easter egg hunt in Canberra, a drone flown into restricted airspace in Sydney Harbour, and another that hovered over the wedding party of TV presenters Sylvia Jeffreys and Peter Stefanovic.
Australian drone laws stipulate drones must not be flown within 30 metres of other people, must only be flown during the day, cannot fly higher than 120m, and cannot fly within 5.5km of an airport.
Mr Gibson said it wasn’t clear whether the increasing number of penalties issued for dangerous drone use was due to riskier behaviour or simply a greater number of drones used in Australia, but greater education was needed.
Australian drone users can check whether it’s legal to fly a drone in their area by using CASA’s Can I Fly There app or checking droneflyer.com.au.