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Drone activity grounded

11 July 2014

Recent media surrounding a real estate agent using a drone to capture marketing images has landed the agent in hot water after disturbing a neighbour of the property.

The Australian reported on 10 July 2014 that a Mosman resident spotted a mini-helicopter flying in front of her top-floor apartment on Moruben Road.

She originally thought the object was a plane in the distance, but then quickly realised it was a drone. The drone was being operated by a real estate agent.

The police were informed of the situation, but NSW Police’s Director of Public Affairs Strath Gordon said he understood that police spoke to the real estate agent and he had the appropriate documentation to fly the drone. No offence was established.

REINSW President Malcolm Gunning said if agents use the tool appropriately and have authority then it should not be a problem.

“If an agent is going to use the drone, which are known to be used in the industry for marketing photography, it is important for them is to be a registered user,” Mr Gunning said.

“REINSW insists agents should be cautious when using any technology that may disrupt someone’s privacy. Agents should adopt the right protocol and be respectful of neighbours.

“Let all neighbours know you will be taking landscape images at a certain time on a certain day. This is courteous and appropriate behaviour,” he said.

Mr Gunning told The Australian that REINSW does not have set guidelines in place for this kind of activity, however recommendations to NSW agents will be made.

Under Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) legislation, commercial operators must meet certain licensing requirements in order to use a drone. There are more than 100 approved operators currently in Australia.

The CASA recently forced a South Australian agency to ground its drones last month as they did not have approval to fly drones for commercial purposes.