60 million Aust drone flights predicted for 2043

Monday, 22 April, 2024

60 million Aust drone flights predicted for 2043

A new report commissioned by Airservices Australia predicts that the annual number of drone flights in Australian skies will surge from 1.5 million a year in 2023 to 60.4 million a year by 2043. The exponential growth in drone traffic is expected to be driven by increasing demand from the transport and logistics sector, which is forecast to make up 77% of the increase in drone traffic.

The report, ‘Sizing the future drone and advanced air mobility market in Australia’, was produced to inform the ongoing discussion on how Australia can best prepare for and benefit from the increasing availability of drone technology. Airservices commissioned the scoping report to inform its future planning for uncrewed aircraft traffic management.

Drones are already employed widely in Australian agriculture and mining operations, where they are used for operational monitoring, surveying and mapping. Several new market entrants are also delivering food and goods by drone, with more than 120,000 trips per year taking place already. The report predicts that by 2043 Australian farmers will be making 500,000 drone flights annually to monitor crops, while drones will make 1.5 million food deliveries to Australian households.

Emergency services are also forecast to make increasing use of drone technology. More than 300,000 flights will be made annually to support frontline police and 80,000 flights in support of surf lifesavers, while 100,000 patients will be transported to hospital by specialised new air ambulances. Electric air taxis are meanwhile expected to make nearly 1 million flights in 2043, with providers targeting Australian launches to coincide with the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Brisbane.

The report finds there is broad agreement among industry stakeholders that achieving and managing the increase in drone traffic will require an appropriate and responsive regulatory framework, and a willingness to work collaboratively to enable the safe and sustainable growth of uncrewed aviation. In light of this, Airservices has appointed Frequentis Australasia to develop world-leading, digital air traffic management to safely integrate millions of uncrewed aircraft flights into Australia’s busy airspace.

Following a comprehensive selection process, Frequentis was chosen to develop a Flight Information Management System (FIMS) that will enable Airservices to seamlessly incorporate drones, air taxis and other uncrewed aircraft into Australian airspace. The FIMS will be at the core of Australia’s Uncrewed Aircraft Systems Traffic Management (UTM) ecosystem and will enable Airservices to share flight information between air traffic control, traditional aircraft and uncrewed airspace users.

“Drones are the biggest growth area in aviation, and our partnership with Frequentis to develop a FIMS will enable us to integrate traditional and new airspace users into increasingly busy airspace,” said Airservices CEO Jason Harfield.

“With Frequentis, we will develop a FIMS that meets the needs of Australian airspace users and ensures we can safely integrate millions of drone flights with other users. I’m confident the new FIMS will encourage the growing drone market to reach its full potential in Australia.”

Image credit: iStock.com/seregalsv

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