Over our heads? Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and the issues surrounding free flight

by Ed Kennedy

Drones are a big business right now. Since their emergence on the market in recent years, Drones a.k.a Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), have been taken up and adopted for use by an array of Baysiders.

To many, these machines are used for recreational tools, and often seen in compliment to the ‘mini action cameras’ – such as Go Pro – that allow people to film their often high-octane adventures.

By contrast, for an increasing number of filmmakers, documentarians and entrepreneurs, these aerial cameras represent a new frontier when it comes to building a brand and business.

Yet, there is also a downside to the rise of the availability of these drones with security, privacy and even logistical concern – due to the sheer amount of new UAVs in the sky posing a potential problem to those on the ground.

With it understood the Civil Aviation Administration Authority (CASA) is set to re-examine the laws surrounding drone flight in Australia – currently viewed by critics as minimal and insufficient –an examination of this new and oftentimes not yet fully understood area of aviation is worthwhile.

Nicolas Pette, is one such example of a local who ‘taken to the skies’ with his efforts in this industry.

Having lived in Cheltenham for a time, the attraction of local Bayside sights and surrounds was considerable, as evidenced by his YouTube channel’s video of Half Moon Bay – that was filmed via drone, and which offer a new perspective to the familiar landmark, for locals and new viewed alike.

With his business Drone Under, Nic has filmed around the world, with his business taking him to New Calendonia, France and beyond.

The Bayside Citizen got in touch with Nic while overseas filming in Europe and the following is a transcript of our interview. Part II of this story in coming days.

The Bayside Citizen: What appealed about Half Moon Bay for Drone Under as a filming location?

Nicholas Pette: At Drone Under, we produce two kind of images. The ones that we shoot because we are passionate, and the ones we shoot for our customers, for business purposes. The former are used on our monthly showreels, published on our website and social networks.

Finding shooting locations for our showreels is kind of a permanent quest, and that’s really the exciting part of the Drone Activity. Try to find locations with a potential for amazing footage and yet unseen view angles. That’s what brought us to Half moon Bay.

We knew that there was a wreck there. Over water shots are often quite spectacular and, combined with a great sunset, we felt we could get something interesting here! Technology evolved a lot since we shot these images nearly 2 years ago, we are now thinking to go to that place again to get even better images from this incredible location.

TBC: In a brief, layman way, could you be explain for our readers in a sentence or two what exactly it is your business does/entails?

NP: We produce high quality aerial footage for our customers, at a resolution up to 4K, ready for seamless integration. We work in close collaboration with our customers to deliver fully stabilized images that address their needs.

TBC: How did you come to be involved in drones?

NP: This is all about my passions! I have a Telecommunication Engineer background and also work in the IT field as a business analyst for one a major Australian telecommunication company.

I’m also passionate about sky exploration and tried to become a commercial pilot for Airbus in the past, and also practiced skydiving in France for a couple of years.

All this combined with my love for creativity and past professional experience in the digital world. So, over time, I realized that flying drones was covering the 3 things I love to deal with: Digital creation, Sky exploration, High technology. Drone Under was born.

TBC: What is the most interesting/unexpected thing about working with drones that people may perhaps not know at first glance?

NP: Flying Drones seems very easy at a first glance. Especially with the arrival of consumer drones on the market, you can find yourself controlling a drone in the air within minutes after you’ve unpacked it.

But that’s where it stops from the easy side of things. When you decide to start a business, then you start dealing with all the aspects of being a sole trader, and that’s far from being easy.

Here are a few examples of the challenges we faced starting this journey:
– How to work by the law?
– What is the business plan?
– How do we develop the business?
– How do we insure our presence on internet and social networks?
– How do we position Drone Under on the market?
– What technology do we want to use?
– What are the market expectations?

From a purely drone-perspective, the most interesting thing is surely the adrenaline you get when you fly your drones. I’ve been flying them for more than 2 years, and I still get my adrenaline shot when I start a flight.

Another thing is the complexity, people usually don’t realize the amount of technology that is embedded in the drones. Maintaining and flying them requires you to be patient, thorough, and disciplined.

TBC: What are your thoughts on the proposed changes to laws surrounding drone and drone regulation within Australia?

NP: Australia is a very drone friendly country in regard to the rest of the world. We, drone flyers, share the sky with other/bigger flying objects and this needs to be understood properly. Safety should always drive the way legislation is done, and that’s precisely what CASA is doing.

One could complain about the cost and time involved in the process of becoming a certified operator, but at least, that’s possible, which is not the case everywhere. There are good ideas, and less good ideas, but all this is very fresh and moving very fast, which comfort me in the idea that CASA is working hard on this, in the interest of everyone.

Experience and time will surely help defining more appropriate legislation around commercial drone activities, but Australia is already one of the world pioneer in this field.

Article first appeared in The Bayside Citizen January 2015

Part II of article here: http://www.baysidecitizen.com/?p=481

Ed Kennedy is a journalist, ghostwriter, and web developer from Melbourne, Australia. Contact Ed via enquiries@edkennedy.co on Skype or LinkedIn.

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