CASA’S Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) OCTA examination
How will the BVLOS OCTA exam benefit the drone industry in Australia?
Carbonix welcomes the introduction of CASA’s new BVLOS OCTA exam. We see this as a significant turning point for the drone industry as a whole which will also further position Australia as a leader in drone innovation. It will allow a more industry specific pathway into BVLOS operations by being a fit-for-purpose exam for drone pilots flying BVLOS (required for long range and / remote operations capability) missions and therefore accelerate the adoption of BVLOS missions in the wider drone capability.
Previously, the only way to enable BVLOS operations was to have an IREX qualified pilot either operating the UAS or as a supervising remote pilot. The pathway to having passed the IREX exam was long and arduous, requiring weeks if not months of studying complex commercial manned aircraft aviation procedures to pass an exam that had little to do with BVLOS operations.
What new opportunities will it enable Carbonix drone pilots, and others, to take advantage of?
The new exam will enable faster adoption of long-range / BVLOS capable drones which are required for more complex, remote and higher value missions.
By making it easier to get qualified pilots will be able to get accredited and fly missions, knowing they have the appropriate skills and knowledge for the specific BVLOS missions. The current system is like doing a driving licence test for a 50 person passenger bus when you want to drive a remote controlled car. While the operating environment is similar, the “cockpit” is very different and less complex to allow the pilot to operate safely. The test should therefore be specific and fit-for-purpose to the required end need.
How will it streamline and achieve cost savings and improve efficiencies for the industry?
Long range / remote operational drone capability provides a significant reduction of the unit economics (e.g. cost per km / per hour) across a wide spectrum of drone missions.
By having a less onerous and fit-for-purpose accreditation process, more companies are likely to adopt drone capabilities, streamlining tasks that are time consuming and often carried out manually, such as site inspections of mine sites, regional power poles and wind farms. BVLOS capable drones can do these jobs more efficiently and safely, while saving money and reducing the environmental impact of these operations.
What does the introduction of this exam say about CASA’s approach to the drone industry in Australia?
It shows CASA is listening to industry feedback and taking a pragmatic approach to enable safe skies in Australia where fit-for-purpose (particularly in remote/rural areas vs. metropolitan/densely populated areas) is key.
How will it improve safety?
Allowing more industry specific trained RPAS pilots to enter BVLOS operations will enable faster adoption of safe BVLOS capability, and accelerate innovation of safer use of existing and new drone technology.
Commentary attributed to Carbonix CEO, Philip van der Burg (pictured right) following CASA change to Drone licence exam.