A remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) program will soon assist the Western Australian Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) meet the challenges of working in an increasingly complex environment.
The release of the RPA Operational Procedure this week will ensure that the department operates its unmanned aircraft safely and lawfully for activities such as geological mapping, abandoned mine site investigations and rehabilitation performance.
The DMIRS developed its operational procedure in consultation with other government agencies and leading energy companies.
Acting Executive Director for Resource and Environmental Compliance, Karen Caple said using unmanned aircraft involves risks, so the endorsed operational procedure will help the DMIRS identify, assess, and where appropriate, manage issues that may arise during RPA activities.
“The procedure will also ensure we operate all RPA’s in accordance with the relevant legislative requirements,” she explained.
The operational procedure outlines a range of strategies for the pre-flight phase through to the demobilisation phase and includes job-safety analysis, incident reporting and regular maintenance schemes.
As unmanned aircraft are a dynamic technology with constantly changing capabilities, Ms Caple said the department would monitor and review its RPA operational procedure as required.
“Innovation is a key part of what we do, so we look forward to tracking RPA developments and assessing the unique advantages the technology can deliver.”
“Most importantly, our drones allow us to operate safely and efficiently – such as being able to access previously inaccessible areas to obtain quality data. This is a major benefit given much of the work we do is in remote locations,” she added.
The unmanned aerial vehicles are expected to particularly benefit DMIRS field officers, as drones will allow them to cover large amounts of territory where the data collection was previously done on foot.
The DMIRS’ RPA project started several years ago and included a thorough analysis and trial of RPA capabilities.
The department now has two drones and several fully-licensed operators.