Customs seizes 80k worth of Drones


Unlike the Civil Aviation definition of UAV v Model Aircraft being Commercial v Hobby use, the Defence and Strategic Goods list (  defines a UAV as any unmanned aircraft that has an autopilot OR can fly beyond line of sight. 

Feeling very nervous after reading the article above because you could get into alot of trouble traveling with your Arducopter or Arduplane.

One might think "surely my quad isn't covered under export control" but whilst the CyberQuad looks like quite an impressive aircraft, under the hood, it's an off the shelf flight controller that you can buy from a hobby shop.

Terrorist obviously don't have the brains to buy drone parts from China and assemble it themselves.

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  • According to the itnews story, this relates to two seizures that were a month apart.  After the first shipment customs seized the company really should have been aware of the issue and not been caught out again only a month later...

    Laws exist to set limits on what is legally allowed and this applies to both businesses and people.  There is nothing new about this and the law that caused these UAVs to be seized is not new, having existing in some form since 1996.  That there are restrictions on exports and imports is well know and I would expect an export business to investigate how any export related laws would impact on their business.

    The relevant section is 9A012 on page 246.  It might be a stupid and pointless restriction at a time when cheap open source flight controllers are available but ignoring the law can have serious consequences.  A better option is obtaining the correct permits and lobbying for the law to be changed.  It is difficult to be sympathetic in this case, particularly when the commercial UAV operators in Australia are lobbying for laws to restrict hobbyists.

    Pointing out to the government the insanity of being able to import similar equipment from China will be met with blank looks.

  • Looks like an overreaction to me. These were not military drones.

    A 1996 law - man it looks like we finally discovered it!

    I take it that these could come under the 'Dual‑use' category? You would expect to be able to show use as part of the declaration, as well as destination, and purchaser.

    That replacement laser tube for my laser cutter could be on the list too!

    The Drones are a bit overpriced! Must be rich as well and dumb terrorists!

  • Gary,

    Very good point. I have some partners interested in some units for Singapore that might not be able to be exported. So we will go with local builder with local parts.. there goes 20K to a foreign builder. It is all off the shelf...

  • Governments are not handling well the fact that open source, open hardware and truly international cooperation has resulted in stuff they previously thought to be among their most closely held military assets is now irretrievably in the public domain.

  • This is an ongoing issue that will limit commercial growth. It will be interesting to see how they solve this in the USA. AU etc.

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