Business Irish

Sunday 11 December 2016

Drone Expo: All eyes on Ireland in next step for regulation

Published 01/04/2016 | 13:34

Ian Kiely Organiser of the Drone Expo in the RDS.
Ian Kiely Organiser of the Drone Expo in the RDS.

The eyes of the world's aviation industry are on Ireland and what it will do next in terms of drone regulation.

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Ireland punches well above its weight in terms of aviation with one in every five aircraft on the planet being leased through here.

Commercial drone use has expanded to over 140 companies in Ireland and Drone Expo Ireland organiser Ian Kiely said the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) will be play a crucial part in how they’re used.

“Ireland is actually being watched by a lot of other countries to see what we’re going to do. The first legislation on drone use here was adopted from existing laws and on December 21 they released new legislation that we must abide by,” he said.

In December the IAA made it mandatory for for all drones over 1kg to be registered.

Mr Kiely was speaking at the three-day exhibition in the RDS running from Friday April 1 to Sunday April 3.

“It needs to be polished and the technology is still advancing and we expect it to take three or four concerted efforts before the technology and the laws meet,” Mr Kiely said.

Drones are restricted from flying above 400 feet here and they cannot be flown when out of the line of sight of the pilot.

Dublin Fire Brigade’s Ciaran Lalor with Teresa Hudson and Caroline Gunning pictured at the Drone Expo Show in the RDS.
Dublin Fire Brigade’s Ciaran Lalor with Teresa Hudson and Caroline Gunning pictured at the Drone Expo Show in the RDS.

Further restrictions prevent them from being used in towns and urban areas as well as anywhere near crowds.

However, these preventative measures haven’t stopped Irish people from building drone-based businesses.

Aerial Eye founder Fearghus Foyle showed off the surveying capabilities of drones.

Mr Foyle uses the small unmanned aircraft to photograph and survey quarries for mining companies highlighting what stock is left to be mined.

Aerial Eye also uses drone footage to photograph archaeological sites as well as developing 3D models.

Drone use has spread out to State services too with the Special Forces and the Irish Fire Service both using them.

Fearghus Foyle of Aerial Eye at the Drone Expo in the RDS.
Fearghus Foyle of Aerial Eye at the Drone Expo in the RDS.

While reconnaissance is the main use for the Special Forces, drones are improving the safety of workers in the Fire Service.

“The Irish Fire Service are adopting a camera that can register a heat source. So when firemen are going in, they are often going in blind into a fire, whereas now they can tell where the hottest part of the fire is and they can give good intel to the guys on the ground,” Mr Kiely said.

A better mechanism to crack down on those who are not following the legislation enforced by the IAA was called for by Mr Kiely.

Commercial drone users can end up spending around €8,000 to get officially and legally up and running before going into business. The Drone Expo creator said illegal users are undercutting those who have gone through the system propery.

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