In December 2015, the Irish Aviation Authority introduced the Small Unmanned Aircraft (Drones) to their register. As of Monday, the 3rd of April, 2017, the Register stands at 6936 for Drone Registrations in Ireland.
So just what are drones? Manus Weed of the Irish Aviation Authority defines drones as “a broad range of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that are used for either personal or commercial use.”
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Drones have not just become popular among casual hobbyists but also in commercial endeavours. Multinational companies such as Facebook, Google and Amazon have already invested heavily in research related to drones, and smaller business owners such as fast food restaurants and florists have begun investigating how to utilise drones for their business. News agencies have also been using drones for the coverage of certain stories and they have been used in the production of movies in Hollywood for the assistance of filming.
While many companies have struggled to implement drones due to unclear guidelines, the IAA have a clear list of don’ts for owners of UAVs.
“The IAA engages with those who operate drones unsafely that come to our attention. Each case is dealt with on an individual basis and evaluated for potential impact on safety” said Manus.
The uses of drones in not just the professional world but for smaller tasks was shown on January 29th 2017, when a ten-year old girl called Belle Moore carried out the first approved parcel drop by drone in Ireland.
Belle is student of Alexandra College Junior School, Milltown, and carried out the delivery for research for her project on drones for the Intel Mini Scientist Competition. The flight took place at 5pm in Dun Laoighaire and took two minutes to complete from take-off to parcel drop. The drone took a parcel, weighing 250 grams from the shoreline to a boat at sea almost 200 metres away. The parcel contained emergency medical supplies such as a blanket, an epi-pen, plasters, a burn dressing and gloves as well as a high energy bar and water.
“We’re delighted with the success of the first official parcel delivery in Ireland via drone under controlled conditions which met all regulatory requirements. The application of drone technology is vast and the IAA will continue to foster, promote and encourage its use with the emphasis, as always, on safety,” said Ralph James, the IAA’s Director of Safety Regulation. “A significant amount of research is taking place all over the world to design systems which will enable drones to safely integrate with manned aviation. Drone delivery systems is one such application. Whatever procedures are introduced in the future must guarantee the safety of manned aviation and the safety of people on the ground in urban areas,” James added.
I completely changed my initial idea and to be perfectly honest, I’m very pleased that I did. The IAA were a pleasure to get information from and Manus Weed, the press officer I was in contact with, went above and beyond to make sure I was happy with what he had given me.
Drones have surged in popularity in recent years and I felt it would be very newsworthy to cover them, especially as strides are made to integrate them in tasks such as delivering emergency supplies. They are a regular talking point in regards to privacy and safety and I felt I learned lots from my contact with the IAA in how to properly pilot one and what things you had to watch out for when doing so.
While it isn’t as gritty a story as I would like, I feel it’s a very clean news piece that ultimately, I am very pleased with.