CASA investigating Geraldton drone incident

Staff reporter

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority is investigating an incident in which an aerial unmanned drone allegedly injured a woman taking part in a Geraldton triathlon yesterday.

CASA corporate communications manager Peter Gibson today said: "There were clear rules covering the operation of unmanned aircraft, including a requirement to fly 30 metres away from people unless approved by CASA.

"The rules also state a person must not operate an unmanned aircraft in a way that creates a hazard to another person or property."

Penalties for breaches of these rules could include infringement notices or prosecution.

Organisations and people operating unmanned aircraft in commercial operations are required to have an approval from CASA.

Failing to comply for commercial operations was a breach of the regulations, Mr Gibson said.

"The incident at Geraldton is a clear reminder of the need for all operators of unmanned aircraft – both commercial and recreational – to obey the safety regulations at all times," the spokesperson said.

"Using common sense and following the rules while flying ‘drones’ will avoid accidents and injuries."

The drone's owner, Warren Abrams of New Era Photography and Film, questioned whether the machine struck Raija Ogden.

He said footage taken by the drone showed Mrs Ogden looking backwards as it came up behind her.

Mrs Ogden rejected the claim, insisting she was hit in the head by a propeller and had to have two stitches.

Mr Abrams, who said he volunteered to use the drone to provide a live feed of the triathlon, would not comment about who held public liability insurance over the incident.

Geraldton Triathlon Club president Simon Teakle said he would not comment on the event's insurance policy.