V-TOL & RelmaTech Prepare for World First at Port of Brisbane


Working with New Hope Group (NHG) staff members Martin Leggat & Tony Nielsen (on L), Mark Xavier (V-TOL) and John Thynne (RelmaTech UK), conduct the final risk assessment for RPAS survey operations over the Queensland Bulk Handling NHG facility at the Port of Brisbane.


V-TOL has achieved a world first by securing the required permissions to conduct routine RPAS operations within 3NM of major International Airport at a major Port facility. “This is a commercial operation designed to provide valuable data for the New Hope Group on a regular basis,” says Mark Xavier.”


To the best of our knowledge, this type of operation has never been permitted before and was only achieved after testing our manufactured aircraft, and operational concept using RelmaTech’s SIAM (Secure Integrated Air Management) technology with the Royal Australian Air force at RAAF Base Amberley where V-TOL has operated RPAS for over 10 years “, he continued.


V-TOL is an innovative Queensland based CASA Approved RPAS manufacturer, fight operations & training organisation that has partnered with leading global technology companies such as RelmaTech Plc, UK, to deliver advanced regulator approved RPAS operations.

International Interest in AUSA RPAS Training

AUSA visit 31.8.16

V-TOL CEO and AUSA Chief RPAS Instructor Mark Xavier briefs a foreign delegation on the RPAS training programs offered by the Academy. “It is clear that our reputation as a global leader in CASA Approved RPAS Remote Crew training is getting out there”, he says. “Many Nations in our region are looking to Australia and its industry leaders for advice on starting similar capabilities,” he noted.

RelmaTech and V-TOL claim world’s first commercial RPAS/UTM flights

Secure airspace management for small drone operations is here

RelmaTech’s SIAM system – the leader in making small drone operations safe

BRISBANE, 22 August, 2016 – Australia’s V-TOL Aerospace has partnered with UK-based RelmaTech to conduct what they claim is the world’s first commercial flight operations of a remotely piloted airborne system (RPAS) supported by an Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management (UTM) system.

On Thursday 18th August, V-TOL used one of its GosHawk variant RPAS to conduct routine volumetrics survey operations for its customer, New Hope Mining Group (NHG), at NHG’s Jeebropilly Mine site located 1.5 nautical miles from the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Amberley, west of Brisbane in Queensland, Australia. The GosHawk II Surveyor – an electric fixed wing aircraft weighing less than 7 kilograms – was fitted with RelmaTech’s SIAM (Secure Integrated Airspace Management) technology.


A V-TOL GosHawk II Surveyor RPAS fitted with SIAM (Photo courtesy of V-TOL Aerospace)

“As part of our technology development for minimising risk to third party airspace users, we are now fitting SIAM to all our aircraft, including aircraft we build for our customers,” said Mark Xavier, Director and Chief RPAS Pilot at V-TOL. “As the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) of the aircraft flying within RAAF controlled airspace (CTR), we are permitted to fit such technologies to our aircraft.”

“Thursday’s RPAS operations, consisting of two flights of 2 hours and 1.5 hours duration, were carried out under V-TOL’s current Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) and RAAF permissions,” Xavier added. “It was our first commercial operations using SIAM under standard operating conditions – an event we and RelmaTech believe to be a world first. That these operations took place 1.5 nautical miles from the main runway of Australia’s largest active RAAF base during normal F-18 and C-17 operations is also of significant importance.”

RelmaTech provided RAAF Amberley Air Traffic Control with a login to the SIAM portal so they could observe V-TOL’s RPAS operations in real time. Login accounts were also provided to ATC sections at RAAF Base Williamtown, north of Newcastle in New South Wales, and Oakey Army Aviation Centre, west of Toowoomba in Queensland, as V-TOL conducts RPAS operations within the Oakey CTR on a regular basis and will soon commence similar operations within the Williamtown CTR.

“Because the SIAM feed from an operating RPAS can be viewed in real-time over the web, SIAM enabled Amberley ATC to have greater situational awareness of V-TOL’s RPAS operating within their active CTR,” said Philip Hall, Founding Director and CEO of RelmaTech. “Mark, as Chief Pilot of V-TOL, was also able to monitor the flights between meetings in the Brisbane CBD, and I watched the live feed from my home office in the United States. The NHG Operations Manager for the Jeebropilly site could also observe the operations on his iPad.”

Last Thursday’s landmark flights come just a week after V-TOL demonstrated SIAM to representatives of Defence Industries and the Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation, Queensland. In that demonstration, V-TOL had two RPAS flying at the same time in their training area; a V-TOL Hornet multi-rotor on a general flight test, and a V-TOL GosHawk fixed wing conducting a survey training mission. Each aircraft weigh less than 7 kilogram. The demonstration included a detailed briefing and viewing of SIAM’s composite live feed of the aircraft flying.

John Thynne, former Manager Safety Systems Office at CASA and now Manager Aviation Solutions at RelmaTech, says “SIAM offers an operative digital substitute for ADS-B and secondary radar, thus providing an effective alternate means of situational awareness in the aviation sphere. This technology will assist in allowing the aviation industry greater scope of operations into the future.”

With SIAM technology, Xavier can now monitor his company RPAS operations anywhere in the world from the Operations Room at V-TOL’s Head Office in Rocklea, Queensland – or wherever he is. “SIAM will enable safer and more advanced operations in the National Airspace, and we are excited to be able to make this capability available to our customers”, Xavier says. “As an OEM manufacturer and operator of unmanned aircraft, we believe it should be a requirement to fit all unmanned aircraft with SIAM technology.”

About SIAM

“SIAM offers a viable and robust solution to the critical issues confronting regulators and manufacturers responsible for ensuring the safety of low-flying RPAS,” Hall says. “SIAM represents an innovative integration of proven technologies and concepts used in civil aviation, online and mobile communications and information management, working in concert with existing transportation systems to ensure that small RPAS operations are safe for the full range of potential users.”

“With SIAM, RPAS and their operators can be identified and their permissions verified – and, where necessary, restricted,” Hall adds. “SIAM can determine whether the flight to be undertaken is restricted to Line of Sight or permitted for Beyond Line of Sight, and then oversee the flight accordingly. These and other capabilities, including separation assurance and collision warning, ensure that RPAS can be safely operated within an integrated managed airspace.”

About RelmaTech

RelmaTech is a UK-based company specialising in the development and operation of integrated technology-based solutions that provide for the safe and secure management of autonomous and semi-autonomous land, marine and air vehicle operations. RelmaTech also has representation in the United States and Australia. RelmaTech has lodged a world-wide patent application for SIAM.

About V-TOL Aerospace

Incorporated in 2004, V-TOL Aerospace is a Queensland-based 100% Australian owned SME and holder of CASA ARN: 750 709 and Unmanned Operator Certificate (UOC) 0074. V-TOL designs, manufactures, supplies, operates and supports fixed wing and multi-rotor RPAS for organisations and professionals from initial concept to sustainable commercial operations.

Media Contacts:

Philip Hall
Founding Director and CEO
RelmaTech Limited
London WC2H 9JQ, UK
T: UK +44 (0)20 8144 6021, USA +1 734-385-4321, Australia +61 (0)2 6100 8585
E: [email protected]

Mark Xavier
Managing Director
V-TOL Aerospace
Rocklea, Queensland 4106, Australia
T: +61 7 3275 2811
E: [email protected]

Highway Patrol Helicopter in Close Call with Unregulated RPAS Operator

The operator of a drone that forced a California Highway Patrol helicopter pilot to take evasive action Saturday night could face federal prosecution, according to law enforcement officials.

A CHP helicopter searching for a stolen vehicle was flying above eastbound Highway 4 in Martinez at about 9 p.m. when the pilot spotted a red light outside of the cabin, straight ahead, and very close, said Officer James Andrews, spokesman for the CHP air operations unit.

The pilot determined it was a drone, flying at the same altitude of 700 to 800 feet, and veered to the right to avoid a collision. The drone passed to the left, close to the helicopter. The pilot circled back and illuminated the drone with a spotlight. He followed it, watched it descend for a landing, and directed Martinez police to Roux Court.

A Martinez police officer spotted a man carrying a drone into his front yard. The officer interviewed the man, whose name has not been released, and forwarded a report to the CHP, said Martinez police Sgt. Fred Ferrer. The man was not arrested or cited, but the incident will be investigated by federal and local authorities, and he could face federal charges, Andrews said.

“This was a close call,” Andrews said. “Everyone got away without injury. But it could have been worse.”

Andrews said he hasn’t seen the drone or read the interview with its pilot, but he said remote-control flying devices pose a serious threat to licensed aircraft.

“Absolute worse-case scenario: The drone could come through window and take out the pilot, and the helicopter could come down,” he said.

Andrews said the incident was the first time a CHP helicopter in the Bay Area had to take evasive action to avoid hitting a drone. But the rising popularity and falling prices of drones are expected to put many more in the skies around Christmas. That worries law enforcement officials as well as the Federal Aviation Administration.

“It’s definitely something that’s very concerning to us,” Andrews said. “With more people getting drones over the holidays, it is going to get worse.”

He advised drone owners to “use some common sense,” flying below the tree line, away from neighbours’ homes and far from piloted aircraft.

Andrews, also a CHP helicopter pilot who was off duty Saturday, acknowledged that he has a personal interest in keeping drones out of the way of piloted aircraft.

“If your level of aircraft experience is that you ordered something from Amazon,” he said, “you ought to stay out of the federal air traffic system.”

Source: SF Gate

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European Pilots Want Regulations on Recreational Users

In a new position paper, the European Cockpit Association – the European pilots’ union – have outlined a number of prerequisites for the safe integration of light RPAS, often referred to as ‘toys’, into Europe’s low level airspace.

“A broad misconception is that small drones are harmless ‘toys’ flying at low level. However, RPAS, even light ones below 1 kg, can cause significant or even catastrophic damage to, for example, helicopters in case of a collision as helicopters have a number of vulnerable, critical components, such as the tail rotor or main rotor head,” ECA President Dirk Polloczek said.

“Even below 500 feet there is a lot of air traffic, such as air ambulances, police or fire fighting. The same applies to the airspace next to airports, with a frequent incoming and outgoing traffic. Contrary to scheduled airline flights, most of the low-level air traffic (e.g. police or air ambulances) are not predictable in time and place, but all are subjected to strict air operations rules. So should RPAS be.”

At this moment recommendations for worldwide requirements for RPAS are being developed by the Joint Authorities for Rulemaking on Unmanned Systems (JARUS).

In Europe, the National Civil Aviation Authorities are currently responsible for RPAS operations with a weight of 150 kg or less, which leads to diverging rules from state to state.

With the ‘Riga Declaration’, signed by the European Commission and various stakeholders, and the European Aviation Safety Agency’s proposed ‘Concept of Operations’ Europe has taken a decisive step to open its skies for RPAS.

ECA has outlined a set of key regulatory standards to ensure safety in lower level airspace when RPAS are integrated with other traffic:

  • Introduction of approved automatic detection and      avoidance equipment on RPAS;
  • Placing responsibility to see and avoid manned aircraft      on the pilot of the RPAS;
  • Training and licensing of RPAS-pilots in a way that      knowledge and skills – but also awareness and airmanship – are on a      comparable level as manned aircraft pilots;
  • Compulsory registration for all RPAS;
  • Informing the public about the dangers of recreational      RPAS (DOs and DON’Ts).

“We face an immense challenge to safely integrate RPAS,” said Philip von Schöppenthau, ECA Secretary General. “The Riga Declaration spells out important principles. But we need to be meticulous in our assessment and way forward when it comes to the details. We simply cannot afford to fail. This would be disastrous both for the RPAS industry and for aviation safety. As such we hope that Europe’s future drone rules will be a leading example worldwide when it comes to safety and security.”

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FAA Streamlines UAS COAs for Section 333

The Federal Aviation Administration has established an interim policy to speed up airspace authorizations for certain commercial unmanned aircraft (UAS) operators who obtain Section 333 exemptions. The new policy helps bridge the gap between the past process, which evaluated every UAS operation individually, and future operations after we publish a final version of the proposed small UAS rule.

Under the new policy, the FAA will grant a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) for flights at or below 200 feet to any UAS operator with a Section 333 exemption for aircraft that weigh less than 55 pounds, operate during daytime Visual Flight Rules (VFR) conditions, operate within visual line of sight (VLOS) of the pilots, and stay certain distances away from airports or heliports:

  • 5 nautical miles (NM) from an      airport having an operational control tower; or
  • 3 NM from an airport with a      published instrument flight procedure, but not an operational tower; or
  • 2 NM from an airport without a      published instrument flight procedure or an operational tower; or
  • 2  NM from a heliport with      a published instrument flight procedure

The “blanket” 200-foot COA allows flights anywhere in the country except restricted airspace and other areas, such as major cities, where the FAA prohibits UAS operations. Previously, an operator had to apply for and receive a COA for a particular block of airspace, a process that can take 60 days. The agency expects the new policy will allow companies and individuals who want to use UAS within these limitations to start flying much more quickly than before.

Section 333 exemption holders will automatically receive a “blanket” 200 foot COA. For new exemption holders, the FAA will issue a COA at the time the exemption is approved. Anyone who wants to fly outside the blanket parameters must obtain a separate COA specific to the airspace required for that operation.

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Abu Dhabi Bans Sale of Recreational Drones – The Importance of Adhering to Regulations

Recreational drones have been banned from sale in Abu Dhabi because they pose a risk to aviation. The ban was announced on Wednesday by the Abu Dhabi Business Centre, an affiliate of the Department of Economic Development, to reduce the number of drones in the air and ensure they were not being misused.

It will be enforced until new laws on drone use are issued. “Stopping the sale of drones comes within the mandate of the centre to regulate and control commercial activities that may negatively affect community security,” said Mohammed Al Rumaithi, acting executive director of the centre. But despite being officially warned, some shops in Abu Dhabi were selling drones yesterday. Mohammed Mujahid, a team leader at one shop, said he had a model on offer for Dh4,900 – the Phantom – with a built-in camera for stills and videos.

Mr Mujahid said he had read about the ban online and was warned by the centre on Wednesday. “Yesterday I had a guy from the municipality who warned us not to sell this anymore,” he said. “Its sale now in the market is prohibited. But we need to finish the stock because they’re very expensive and I am going to lose too much money. “I still have five pieces to sell. I’ll keep them until I finish them. I won’t get a new lot.” He said the ban must have been introduced for security reasons. “These drones come with built-in cameras,” Mr Mujahid said. “I think the Government wanted to stop sales because people might use them for illegal activities.”

In January, air traffic was suspended at Dubai International Airport after reports that drones were being flown dangerously close to planes. Mr Al Rumaithi said the ban was to protect “aviation security and safety”. A committee was formed in 2013 to study the use of drones and draft laws that added to “regulations in force to prevent the use of airspace without prior permission from the competent authority”.

Ahmed Al Qubaisi, acting director of the centre’s commercial protection department, said: “The centre has begun to address all sales outlets and shops in Abu Dhabi to request them to stop selling drones to the public.” He said his department would increase inspections of shops to ensure the ban was being followed. Laws to regulate the weight and use of drones are to be announced soon, the state news agency Wam reported. People may still be allowed to use drones if they have obtained government approval. The laws will also set controls for drone use by government agencies and private companies, which will need an official permit before flying them in UAE airspace.

Some stores had adhered to the ban. “We were dealing with drones before but now we have stopped selling,” said a staff member at the Virgin Megastore in Al Wahda Mall. He said the store used to sell different kinds of drones, which cost between Dh1,000 and Dh4,000. The business centre called for the ban to be enforced and for the public to stop buying drones until the laws were issued. The General Civil Aviation Authority on Wednesday said: “The GCAA is in the final stage of finalising a regulation concerning drones and other aviation sports activities.

“For safety, we need to ensure all safety measures such as technical and aviation knowledge of the user, age of the user, drones type, drones technology, airspace availability and awareness are in place before drones can be allowed to fly over public or in the city.” Last month, the US Federal Aviation Administration introduced legislation stating that drone users needed pilot certificates and banning their use at night.

The laws also set a maximum flying speed of 160 kph and an altitude ceiling of about 150 metres.

Source: The National

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Australian UAS Operating Applications Continue to Soar

The Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) says it is being inundated with an unprecedented number of applications to commercially operate drones.

As the technology improves and prices decline, drones have become more accessible in recent years and there are many models on the market.

Drones are also called unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) but CASA refers to them as remote-piloted aircraft (RPAs) to emphasise the human element controlling and overseeing the aircraft from the ground.

They are becoming increasingly popular in difficult and expensive-to-reach parts of regional and remote Australia.

“They’re being used in agriculture, mining, by police forces, fire brigades, aerial photography, survey work, mapping, all sorts of things … and the applications people are putting them to broadens all the time,” CASA spokesman Peter Gibson said.

“There are about 200 approved operators across Australia for remotely-piloted aircraft.

“At any one time we’ve got probably about 30-odd applications before us, and they’re being progressively approved so it is still a growing and vibrant area of Australian aviation.”

In 2010 the CSIRO began research into whether using drones could make cattle mustering cheaper and more efficient.

Principal research scientist Dr Dave Henry said the project involved equipping a drone with a thermal camera in order to locate livestock in extensive rangelands in Queensland.

“One of the issues that the industry has up there is being able to muster all their animals at key times of the year,” he said.

“So if we can actually locate them before mustering, then they can organise their helicopters and their crews to be in the right place at the right time.”

Dr Henry said the CSIRO was now looking at how the tool could be used more broadly.

Broome resident Shayne Thomson has been using a drone recreationally for the past 12 months.

However, his vision is to use drones for planning and environmental purposes.

“These quads and the views they can get with the cameras they’ve got fitted with them now can be used for monitoring coastal erosion,” he said.

Some of the earliest documented uses of drones were during warfare, when balloons were fitted with cameras for military reconnaissance.

Most recent designs include small quads with helicopter-like blades, and light toy-like planes operated by remote control and sometimes even monitored with cameras fitted to goggles so that from a great distance the operator can see where they are flying.

Depending on the model and use of the drone, there are various height, weight and licensing conditions set out by CASA.

Mr Gibson said those using a drone for commercial purposes in Australia must obtain an operator’s certificate from CASA.

He said although CASA was fighting to keep up with the number of applications to be processed, Australia was leading the charge.

“We’re one of the first countries in the world to actually have a set of rules covering and allowing for commercial remotely-piloted-aircraft operations,” he said.

“Countries like the United States for example still haven’t actually got that, so we’re very lucky that we put those rules into place more than 10 years ago, but keeping up now is the challenge.”

Mr Thomson takes his drone to Gantheaume Beach where there is plenty of room to glide and film the town’s famous sunsets.

He said he used the drone for fun and therefore did not need a license, but he warned recreational users should take a commonsense approach.

“The main thing is to fly within the rules and regulations by CASA because if everybody does that, then people will be able to continue using these for recreational purposes,” he said.

Source: ABC

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