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Drone safety: How to report accidents and incidents

When it comes to drone safety, it's important to know how to report accidents and incidents properly. This article details how to do that.

What are accidents and incidents?

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau is the body that records and investigates accidents and incidents. These are divided into two types: Immediately Reportable Matters (IRM) and Routinely Reportable Matters (RRM).

Let’s take a closer look at both.

Immediately Reportable Matter (IRM)

Contact ATSB by phone 24/7 on 1800 011 034. Follow up with a written report within 72 hours, as per Aviation Accident or Incident Notification Form.

  • Death of, or serious injury to, a person in contact with the aircraft, or anything attached to the aircraft, or anything that has become detached from the aircraft
  • Aircraft believed ‘missing’ (though this does not include losing your drone)
  • Aircraft suffering serious damage, or the existence of reasonable grounds for believing that the aircraft has been seriously damaged
  • The aircraft being inaccessible and the existence of reasonable grounds for believing that the aircraft has suffered serious damage
  • Breakdown of separation standards, being a failure to maintain recognised separation standards between aircraft that are being provided with an ATC separation service

Routinely Reportable Matter (RRM)

This is applicable if no serious injury has occurred and only requires a written report within 72 hours.

  • A flight crew member becoming incapacitated while operating the aircraft airprox (the code word used in an air traffic incident report to designate an aircraft proximity event – a situation in which, in the opinion of a pilot or Air Traffic Services (ATS) personnel, the distance between aircraft, as well as their relative positions and speed, have been such that the safety of the aircraft involved may have been compromised.)
  • An occurrence in which flight into terrain is narrowly avoided
  • The use of any procedure for overcoming an emergency
  • An occurrence that results in difficulty controlling the aircraft, including any of the following occurrences:
  • An aircraft system failure
  • A weather phenomenon
  • Operation outside the aircraft’s approved flight envelope
  • The aircraft’s battery power becoming so low that the safety of the aircraft is compromised
  • A collision with an animal, including a bird, on a certified or registered aerodrome

Requirements for accident and incident reporting

Here are some of the actions required, as mentioned in the Transport Safety Investigation Regulations 2003 and the Transport and Safety Investigation (Voluntary and Confidential Reporting Scheme) Regulation 2012.

  • So that CASA and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) can monitor the safety of RPA operations, errors, failures, incidents and accidents should be recorded for analysis and evaluations.
  • All instances of failure of the RPA to respond to flight commands from the RPS; failure of fly-away protection; failure of the lost link program, in-flight collisions with another aircraft, structure or person; equipment malfunction; structural failures and damage should be recorded by the operator for subsequent analysis and evaluation and reported by the RPA operator as per ATSB requirements.
  • Accidents and serious incidents are required to be immediately notified to the ATSB in accordance with Section 18 of the Transport Safety Investigation Act 2003.
  • Written notifications are required to be submitted within 72 hours of an accident, serious incident or incident in accordance with Section 19 of the Transport Safety Investigation Act 2003 and Regulation 2.6 of the transport Safety Investigation Regulations 2003. The written notification should contain as much information about the accident, serious incident or incident as is within the knowledge of the person at the time of submitting the notification.
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Drone Safety for Managers (Australia)

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