Rescue helicopter's near-miss with drone in Australia


Here is an article on Gizmodo Australia which referenced an article in an local newspaper.

It details again how someone decided that rules weren't for them and went ahead and flew anyway.


A NEAR-miss between a Westpac rescue helicopter and a drone above Broadmeadow is under investigation by safety authorities.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau will interview the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service crew involved in the incident, which occurred near the crew’s Broadmeadow base on Saturday night.

The helicopter was returning from the John Hunter Hospital about 10pm when it spotted lights at about 1000 feet.

Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service spokesman Glen Ramplin said the crew originally thought the lights belonged to a larger aircraft further away.

When they realised it was a smaller object nearby, the crew took evasive action to avoid a collision.


I am currently just a lurker but this really frustrates me as I hope to be able to one day get a drone (my AR Drone doesn't count) and fly it simply by following the rules and some common sense.  Perhaps amateur licensing is the way to go.

One of the comments on the Gizmodo article sums it up nicely "Ahhh, the amateur drone pilot. The modern day jet skier."


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  • That is to say, if you are at any height where other aircraft (both RC OR MANNED) fly you need to make sure that others are aware of your presence in shared airspace. Otherwise, keep it in sight and away from the possibility of colliding with other aircraft.
    Not to mention staying away from roads etc. I think its more likely for a FPV drone to end up crashing onto a busy road causing damage and injury. I don't always fly at club grounds but I do make sure that if something were to go wrong the worst thing I could hit is a bunch of trees.
    Just use common sense and remember Murphy's Law.
  • What concerns me is that fools like this and those who persist in disregarding both the laws/regulations and simple common sense will make it impossible for the rest of us to enjoy flying.
    Whether you think you can legally fly above 400 ft or not is not the point. Safety must be the major concern. If you can't see your drone and you are at a bought where other aircraft fly or above
  • @andrew rabbit

    It astounds me some of the ignorance around here and the lack of general common sense.
    Hope you get slammed by CASA when you get caught.
  • @martin: I don't even know how to respond to such ignorance and foolishness. How can you even justify that comment when the result would have been death to the passengers? Unreal that you would take that position.

  • 101.085 (1)(b) as otherwise permitted by this Part.

    This is what allows 101.400 to work for model aircraft.  "Part" means Part 101 in it's entirety.

  • CASR Part 101, section 101.085 titled maximum operating height, part b of this section states as otherwise permitted, refer to 101.070 to 101.080 for conditions where you are allowed to get approval to fly above 400ft and in controlled airspace. Other sections are 101.250.  Also Advisory Circular 101-1(0), section 7.1, 12.1, 12.2.4.

    The only area where someone may believe there's a discrepancy is in section 101.400, which states that model aircraft can be flown above 400ft, however as said before CASA distinguish the difference between UAV's and model aircraft.  This should be changed to be that all unmanned, model or any variant ie FPV stay below 400ft to avoid any confusion.

    If the person operating this UAV had sought permission to go above 400ft a NOTAM would have been issued, but I doubt this happened or the pilots wouldn't have reported this to the ATSB.

  • Hi Andrew, Sorry mate but you chimed in to this conversation, threw what appears to be misinformation at this point, and portrayed that you had the actual answer. Now you are asking others to point out the correct act that outlines specific details relating to regulations for operating a UAV for personal use.

    Until you have a definite answer, please don't assume. Otherwise this just feeds your statement "It's written in the regulations.  If everyone understood them - manned aircraft pilots included - there'd be less drama all round".

    In terms of your statement "Logic has nothing to do with it, Adam." - you couldn't be any further from the truth.

    I will relay the information that I receive from CASA as soon as they return my call just so we can be clear on this topic. 

  • Can Adam Kroll and Not Sure please post the CASR reference that supports their positions?  Logic has nothing to do with it, Adam.  It's written in the regulations.  If everyone understood them - manned aircraft pilots included - there'd be less drama all round.  If I have it wrong, please point out where, citing your regulatory sources?

    I'm not saying that this errant drone was doing the right thing.  I am saying there seems to be a lot of misinformation and bullshit flying about much higher than it should.

  • Ignorance is not an excuse for not understanding the laws to which we must adhere to when it comes to flying a UAV in Australia.

    400 ft AGL is the ceiling limit if you do not have previous permission from CASA & Airservices Australia in the form of an area approval (or for that matter the new approval types which will soon surface after an internal policy change in CASA recently which is currently being rolled out as OC have their annual reviews).

    Unfortunately this basic rule is broken everyday, so nothing new there.  Just like people stating they completely understand CASR101 and subsequent Advisory Circulars, and unfortunately, nothing new there... 

  • What did this 'drone' look like? size? shape?. At 100 mph, 10:00 at night, 1000 feet up (?) distance from? Hard to judge with all the variables what they did see.

       But I did see bigfoot one day.

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