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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  • Remove the GPS and is not a drone anymore....  good to see that this country is starting following that crappy rules of ITAR control that US really likes... I hope that one day, someone will realise that you can buy a FLIR at 9Hz without  ITAR control and then upgrade the firmware to get more than 9Hz.. what next? they will ban USB cables to do firmware updates! 

  • 100KM

    Yeah I am keen to understand if the issue around them taking equipment in baggage was because it was seen as trying to "export" or if there is actually some restriction on physically taking the equipment with you for use with the intention of bringing it back.

  • Moderator

    I am very sympathetic to what has happened to them, as it seems like under the letter of the law, we could all be stung by the same regulation, hence why I posted this article.

    I agree Lachy, Cyber Technology are very professional and the leading manufacturer of small UAVs. I have nothing bad to about Cyber Technology.  I'm quite proud that both Australia's leading manufacturer, and Australia's leading operator of UAVs both come from Perth, Western Australia.

    What scares the hell out of me after reading that article is potentially any of us could be busted for carrying or sending UAV out of the country.

  • I performed my Manufacturers Type Training with CyberTech while gaining my UAV Controller Certificate. I met many of their staff and learnt a lot from their Chief Instructor. Overall I believe them to be a very professional organisation who, like Hai's Coptercam company, try to perform their business in an ethical and safety focused manor with the best intentions for small UAV operators in Australia. The last things these companies want is see anyone in their industry with bad publicity as it will affect the growth of all the whole industry. CyberTech spoke very highly of Coptercam while I was in Perth and I would expect the reverse to be true too.

    Not having any import or export knowledge, I cannot comment on this accusations, however I do hope that whatever court proceedings follow, it leads to updating of laws to reflect the technology enhancements and how easily merchandise can be shipped around the world so that it doesn't stifle a good growth industry in Australia.

    From a hobbyist perspective, I recently traveled to Vietnam and decided last minute not to take my QAV250 but that was mainly due to the unknown nature of Vietnamese security and customs, and after seeing how open they were to discussions over there, I am now more concerned about our own customs and police! ahh, the missed opportunities of filming Ha Long Bay from the quad... will just have to go back one day I suppose - will just have to order all my parts to Vietnam and build it over there though!

  • @Spicy:

    My guess is simply bureaucrats who want attention to justify their existence or perhaps want to grow their fifedom, nothing to do with common sense, or achieving any worthwhile goal or protection.

  • Maybe the units in question included export controlled items like FLIR cameras? 

    Certainly they should have gone through the proper channels to export.  They definitely should not have tried for round two, though I wonder if the intent of that trip was to deliver the gear or just show it off.

    That being said.  Seems unfair that governments are cracking down on small businesses while equally capable open source/chinese units are sold worldwide with no restriction.

  • I worked for a company exporting mining equipment, with over 95% of their customers out of Australia, and we had to go through the process of gaining defence department approval for one sale.  My only direct involvement was reading over the final application before it was submitted but those actually working on the approval had to go through several stages and address all defence concerns.  It was made more challenging because this involved export to a country with extra restrictions.  Approval was eventually given for the permit.

    It can be a difficult process but that doesn't mean an exporter should not make the effort.

  • @mP1 I am US based but the same issues. The reason (my guess) is that people are paying for an asthetically pleasing integrated package. The system is broken everywhere... 

  • @RobertP & @Eric:

    Given you can buy the same equipment in parts from China, why would anybody buy it via Australia and pay double in the first place ? Doesnt sound like a very sustainable business strategy.

    BTW: What FC does do cyber use ?

  • Rob, Agreed, good points. The exporter certainly had time to find out.

    Since there are many items which are Duel Use then proof of use would be the issue. I mean if a laser tube is listed and people ship them everyday, then how does one prove it's non-military? Since  1996 UAV's are something quite different, and have far more uses than military alone. So the exporter would need to prove its not for military use. Just a thought.

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