DRONE operators will have to be aware now the new Bendigo Health helipad is the landing site for emergency helicopters.
The issue of an exclusion area around the helipad did not come up at a community forum hosted by Bendigo Health and hospital builder Exemplar Health in late May, attended by more than 30 people.
A Bendigo Health spokesperson said noise was a major worry for residents living near the hospital precinct, but the expected frequency of landings of about two a week was enough to assuage concerns.
The landing of the air ambulance for a practice run marked the start of the helipad’s operation, and a warning that drone operators, commercial and hobbyist, have to be more cautious when flying within 5.5 kilometres of the hospital.
Licensed operator Bendigo Aerial has been commissioned for more and more real estate work in Bendigo, according to founder Chris Mather, as birds-eye photos of properties start to become the norm in advertising.
That can mean flying a drone within an exclusion zone, but the newly-enacted exclusion zone means little for fully certified operators who were already licenced to operate near airports and helipads, subject to strict rules.
Mr Mather said whenever commercial operators flew, they were in contact through aeronautical communications with the operators of manned aircraft.
He said that regardless of communication, if he knew an aircraft was flying within an exclusion zone, he would land his drone.
Mr Mather said that rule also applied to hobbyists but they had to rely on their senses to know if there was an aircraft in the vicinity.
Under Civil Aviation Safety Aviation guidelines, flying drones near non-controlled aerodromes meant not flying on or above runways or taxiways and being mindful that aircraft can land and depart in any direction.
Mr Mather said helicopters landing at Bendigo Hospital could approach and leave in any direction.
CASA rules say the safety of remote piloted aircraft “can be improved by using observers near and in communication with the RPA pilot to warn of arriving or departing manned traffic”.
Mr Mather suggested drone flyers including hobbyists use the Can I Fly Here app developed by CASA, but be aware the Bendigo Hospital helipad is not yet included.