3D Robotics

Drones banned on Arctic and Antarctic cruises

3689650215?profile=originalFrom Maritime Executive, via sUAS News:

This week two major associations representing tour operators in the Arctic and Antarctic respectively, have stated that they will not allow visitors to bring recreational Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) into the regions.

The International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO) reached an agreement at its 26 Annual Meeting to forbid the use of the devices for the 2015-16 season. Similarly, the Association of Cruise Operators (AECO) announced today that they will be banning UAVs as well.

The popularity of the flight and camera systems have grown dramatically in the last several years due to the fact that the devices are generally lightweight and inexpensive. Many tourists use the devices to capture photographs and videos of the surrounding landscapes. However, the operation of UAVs may lead to increased noise pollution, disturbances to wildlife and may interfere with scientific work.

AECO said in an online news release that, “Travelers to pristine Arctic areas enjoy unique nature and wildlife experiences, remoteness and silence. AECO finds that some of these values may be at risk if the general use of UAVs is allowed to continue to increase in the Arctic.”

Additionally, any systems weighing it at under 22kg (55lbs) do not require any type of operator certification. This has raised concerns regarding potential pilot errors resulting in lost vehicles or damage to protected areas.

The ban on UAV extends only to use for recreational purposes. IAATO further stated that its ban will be reviewed next year to allow for changes in UAV regulations as well as potential technological advances.

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  • As UAV get smaller, lighter and fly longer, it makes sense to manage this technology, you can't just ban it without understanding where it can fit into the tourist experience. There's no debating the fact that UAV's take awesome photo's and that they will actually be photo's you will look at in years to come. The hypocritic side to this argument will come out when tourist take photo's of greenies and scientists using UAV's to map presitine landscape and track it's animals! 

  • I actually understand why they did this.

    For these two destinations in particular you really have 2 classes of passenger.

    The scientifically curious and the "Green" ecological preservationist.

    When it comes to general drone use, the "Greeny" is going to be opposed to anything interrupting or worse potentially contaminating these "pristine" wilderness's.

    And would even complain mightily about the noise and visibility of their presence let alone the possibility that a penguin chick might be disturbed by them.

    And of course on the cruise ship this would be bound to result in conflict and problems.

    That said, the outright ban is excessive and will definitely cost them bookings, they could have found a reasonable set of controls and limits that could have let them accommodate the "researchers" without inciting the others rather than simply banning drones

    Unfortunately it is easier to simply ban than to establish reasonable parameters and that is what they have chosen to do.



  • These "two major associations" need boykott and no more

  • It is understandable that they would ban UAVs, on the reasons of needed quiet, wildlife and scientific work. But instead I think they should ban UAVs from most of the areas, repeat most areas, allowing tourists to play with their toys. Also they should move this "UAV airspace" to different locations every couple of years.

    A good compromise, the wildlife, quiet and scientific work will go on as easily as it was before, (except in the UAV regions, which, if needed to be moved on the account of needed scientific research or traveling animals, can be moved). And the tourists get to have fun controlling their aircraft in selected areas.

    D M Earl ll

  • I think that banned may be the wrong word here.  I would have preferred to see "not allowed on cruises" instead.  Banned to me carries the meaning that some government entity has banned them, not that the members of these tour associations have decided not to allow passengers to bring them along.  You can still bring UAS to the area, just not as part of one of these tour operations. 

  • IAATO has never cleaned up after their infamous disaster with SS Exlorer. The lost ship was worth zillions of UAVs.


  • Certainly the sewage and exhaust from those ships carry much less risk than the possibility of a UAV sinking to the bottom of the Arctic ocean or get stranded on an ice flow which will be undetectable the next season. And everybody can't wait to fly their "inexpensive" $1000 copter into the abyss.


    Such fools these people are.

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