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Drones in Antarctica! Training the eyes in the sky.

VUAS’ recently ventured across Bass Strait to hold a RePL training course for Helicopter Resources. Although not the first time we’ve jumped on the boat for a RePL course this was a unique experience, with HeliRes utilising remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) in an exciting and pioneering manner.

We travelled to Tassie expecting to have to scrounge together flight hours across several days due to windy and wild weather. Surprisingly we managed to work through batteries a lot more efficiently then we thought we would, with the majority of students reaching competency and flight hours on the first day, making our jobs as instructors a breeze, mind the pun.

However, there was a couple of encounters with resident Wedge-tailed Eagles that didn’t seem to fancy us in their territory and thankfully didn’t turn one of our aircraft into their entrée of plastic & foam.

Now more about the exciting work that HeliRes are doing;

Helicopter Resources are an Australian owned helicopter company which has been operating in Australia and different parts of the globe since the 1970’s. Specifically, their application of RPA is based around their long-lasting partnership with the Australian Antarctic Division.

Although helicopters have been utilised for decades in Antarctica, HeliRes has recognised it may be best suited to take advantage of some of the developing remotely piloted technology for a more efficient result.

Ship navigation and reconnaissance on their voyages down to various Australian and international stations on the Aurora Australis is an example of this. Their DJI Inspires are providing live imagery being broadcasted to the bridge of ice conditions ahead which is influencing navigational decision-making.

Previously, helicopters had to be untied with lengthy pre-flight procedures necessary for a quick reconnaissance flight. It is evident that for this purpose an RPA is more cost, time and space effective whilst still delivering the same result.

It was a pleasure to work with Doug and the crew at Helicopter Resources and we wish them a safe and enjoyable journey for their upcoming season in Antarctica!

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