Unmanned aircraft to soar over Queensland coast


Hardly a surprise that the ScanEagle is perhaps to be deployed in Australia for what it was originally designed for!

Marissa Calligeros

There will be a new covert eye in the sky over waters off Queensland’s coast, with a Brisbane-based businesses to test unmanned aircraft’s ability to detect illegal fishing vessels.

Insitu Pacific Pty Ltd, a Boeing subsidiary, has been commissioned by the Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation to test the technology that has been refined high over the dusty hills of Afghanistan, Minister Jan Jarratt announced yesterday.

“The main objective is to test if the unmanned aircraft system (UAS) is safer, more efficient and effective than manned aircraft,” Ms Jarratt said.

”With monitoring illegal fishing and trawling, UAS have a big advantage because they can stay in the sky for much longer and at altitudes that ensure low noise and an element of stealth, meaning their ability to catch people doing illegal fishing and trawling is much greater.”

However the trials are subject to the approval of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, as the tests would require the ScanEagle UAS to fly at between 2000 and 3000 feet for up to 12 hours during the day and night.

The company will need to demonstrate that the aircraft’s ability to detect and record details are sufficient to warrant police charges being laid and, ultimately, lead to successful convictions.

Cost and logistics will be examined as part of the trial, which will be carried out in conjunction with Fisheries Queensland and Biosecurity Queensland from January.
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