All eyes on Ireland as drone users urge legislation reform
The eyes of the world's aviation industry are on Ireland and what it will do next in terms of drone regulation.
Commercial drone use has expanded to over 140 companies in Ireland and Drone Expo Ireland founder Ian Kiely said the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) will 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," he said. "The first legislation on drone use here was adopted from existing laws and on December 21 they released new legislation."
In December the IAA made it mandatory for all drones over 1kg to be registered.
Mr Kiely was speaking at the exhibition in the RDS which ends tomorrow.
"The legislation needs to be polished and the technology is still advancing so 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.
Further restrictions prevent them from being used in towns and urban areas as well as anywhere near crowds.
Aerial Eye founder Fearghus Foyle showed off the surveying capabilities of drones. He uses the small unmanned aircraft to photograph and survey quarries for mining companies highlighting what stock is left to be mined.
"To do this you fly the drone at various altitudes from 120 metres down to 30 metres and you capture around 400 images to create a fully-rendered 3D model.
"It's really useful for mining companies to determine how much stockpiles they have on site," Mr Foyle said.
Drone use has spread out to State services too with the Special Forces and the Irish Fire Service using them. "The Irish Fire Service is adopting a camera that can register a heat source," Mr Kiely said.
"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."
Commercial drone users can end up spending around €8,000 to get officially running before going into business.