The Civil Aviation Safety Authority is planning legal action against a drone operator after a triathlon competitor was allegedly hit by an unmanned aircraft in WA’s Mid West.
If it goes ahead, CASA says it will be the first time in Australia that the use of drones has resulted in court action.
Raija Ogden sustained head injuries while competing in a triathlon in Geraldton in April.
She said she was hit by a drone which had been filming the event.
The owner of the device, Warren Abrams, said the device narrowly missed Ms Ogden after being “channel hopped” – a type of interference which takes control away from the operator.
CASA has been gathering evidence and interviewing witnesses and has now sent a brief of evidence to the Commonwealth Department of Public Prosecutions requesting the matter go to court.
At the same time, it is relaxing the rules over the use of drones, removing the need for commercial operators to have a licence.
CASA spokesman Peter Gibson said it would monitor the effect of the changes, but the risks were low.
“The risks from smaller remotely piloted aircraft under two kilograms are very small to both people and property,” he said.
Drone-users group Australian Certified UAV Operators (ACUO) is concerned by the deregulation.
ACUO spokesman Steve Brown said drones were increasing in popularity and relaxing the rules was not a good idea.
“By CASA deregulating, opening the skies to the sub two kilo market, they are basically allowing an incident to occur,” he said.
In March, a plane headed for Perth Airport from the Goldfields was forced to take evasive action to avoid hitting what is believed to be an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) flying directly in its path.
The drone missed the plane by about 20 metres, prompting a warning from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau about the dangers of flying UAVs near airports.