Australia’s First Commercial Drone Testing Facility Open for Business

Australia’s first commercial drone testing facility is now open to commercial users around the globe.

Using a $14.5 million investment from the Queensland Government, the design, construction, and support for the foundation stage of the flight testing range has been completed.

Located at Cloncurry Airport, this state-of-the-art facility makes Queensland the first state/territory in Australia to launch a strategy for unmanned aerial systems (UAS), also referred to as drones.

“The facility is the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere and includes a hangar, buildings for office space and monitoring equipment, range control systems, a surveillance radar and amenities,” reports Steven Miles, Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning.

Boeing, one of the world’s largest aerospace companies, was the first user of the facility, testing their latest autonomous technology.

“Boeing Australia tested their advanced autonomy project including brain-on-board technology over 10 days in Cloncurry, flying up to five high-performance test aircraft in a team for the first time,” states Mr Miles.

“To enable instrumented testing of this calibre to occur right here in Queensland is something that makes us extremely proud.”

Emily Hughes, Director of Boeing Phantom Works International, has said that the company takes pride in being the first user of the facility, and confirms the company will take the opportunity to continue flight trials on key projects.

“The facility will provide excellent conditions to test a range of airborne testbeds, which is part of an autonomy research and development program that’s heading toward new autonomous product and prototypes,” Ms Hughes said.

QinetiQ, a multinational defence technology company, was appointed to design and construct the facility, establish the testing range, and manage the foundation stage of the facility.

Greg Barsby, Managing Director of QinetiQ Australia, has said that the flight test range will support all weight classes of UAS.

“It will be a critical component in the overall drone ecosystem, as an enabler and connector of high-technology UAS programs and initiatives,” said Mr Barsby.

The flight test range will help users achieve relevant certification of new systems, providing a missing link for industry and researchers to conduct complex trials to new technology in a safe manner.

Read more about the new facility here.

Source: Queensland Government | Boeing’s autonomous tech flies at new North West drone range

3 December 2020

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