Drones to join helicopters and planes in shark spotting

Shark-spotting drones will be ready to start patrolling the South Australian coastline over the summer, as pilots completed the first stage of training ahead of launching live patrols in December.

Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Correctional Services said it was another election commitment delivered after Surf Life Saving SA (SLSSA) received $350,000 from the State Government in the budget for the drones.

“Fixed-winged aerial shark surveillance patrols commenced this weekend running through until mid-March 2019, and now we have this extra capability in our skies to protect beach goers,” said Minister Wingard.

“Our pilots will continue to train with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) until launch next month and a patrol roster is currently being worked through.

“The use of drones in other states have shown they’re an effective tool in spotting marine animals in a range of environmental conditions.

“The vision from the drones will be monitored by qualified lifesavers who can assess the risks and hazards and will be in communication with SLSSA headquarters, allowing them to spot any potential problems in the water as they happen, making it genuine lifesaving technology,” said Minister Wingard.

SLSSA President Mr John Baker said Surf Lifesavers are excited to be strengthening their emergency response capabilities.

“We are already learning how the addition of Remote Piloted Aircraft (RPA’s) will enhance our hazard identification and search and rescue abilities,” said Mr Baker.

“The visual perspective and agility offered with this equipment is unique and will play its own role in conjunction with our other assets such as the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Service, Jet Rescue Boats, Jet Ski’s, our Radio room and of course our beach patrols.

“Each RPA or Drone on patrol will have slightly different features to suit the specific conditions for the beach and region it is working in.

“Some metropolitan beaches are in located in a flight path and therefore are subject to CASA safety restrictions, which we are currently working through,” Mr Baker said.

Minister Wingard said it was an exciting piece of technology that could advance to other safety monitoring in the future and would work with SLSSA to see what other surveillance drones could carry out at beaches.

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