Australia: Mine drone and a crop duster ‘near miss’

Posted: March 21, 2014 in Mining
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Via Australian Mining. A story about the increased use of drone technology and the dangers of that technology in an ever more contested airspace. Mine drone nearly crashes into plane. Excerpt:

An unmanned aerial vehicle surveying Iluka’s Victorian Echo mine had a near collision incident with a crop duster.

Late last year a Sensefly eBee 178 UAV was carrying out aerial surveying work over Iluka’s Echo mineral sands mines when the incident occurred. According to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau after the operator carried out their re-flight preparations and risk assessment they heard an aircraft operating at a nearby property.

The operator attempted to contact the ag plant aircraft operating nearby, but couldn’t raise him on the radio, and instead got the mine manager to contact the farmer and notify the pilot. However, the information was then miscommunicated to the pilot who assumed, when told that an aircraft was carrying out aerial surveys, it would be a fixed wing plane. During the UAV’s operations it came within 100 metres horizontally and 70 metres vertically of the aircraft. However the pilot was unaware of the near collision incident.

Following an investigation the mine’s UAV operator carried out a presentation on UAVs to air traffic controllers at the nearby Moorabbin Tower, with the mine starting a campaign to advise agricultural aircraft operators of their work, what UAVs look like and protocols for sharing airspace.

There has been a recent leap in the use of drones and UAVs in mining. With the greater push into automation drones are being looked at as a safer, more efficient alternative to traditional surveying.

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