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Travellers advised to check before flying a drone in Antarctica

Monday, December 22nd 2014 - 22:28 UTC
Full article 2 comments
Flying drones in Antarctica raises evironmental concern Flying drones in Antarctica raises evironmental concern

IAATO warns security measures essential for this relatively new activity. Tour operators may have to ban the use of unmanned vehicles out of environmental concerns

 The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) is cautioning all potential travellers to Antarctica, who are hoping to fly a drone, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), to check with their travel agent or tour operator before packing their device. Opportunities may be limited until more is known about their safe and environmentally responsible use in this last great wilderness – particularly in the wildlife rich coastal regions of Antarctica. Tour operators will either prohibit the use of UAVs altogether or only allow them to be operated under strictly defined conditions.

Both Antarctic Treaty Parties and IAATO members are concerned about UAVs in Antarctica; flying these devices is a relatively new activity. While there are situations when UAVs might be useful, for science or ice reconnaissance for example, there are many questions still be answered about their use in terms of meeting IAATO’s agreement that all their activities must be safe and environmentally responsible.

Within the Antarctic Treaty System, the unique global partnership that designates the entire continent as a natural reserve, all human activities, whether for science or tourism, have to go through an annual Environmental Impact Assessment by a relevant Competent Authority/government agency. Planned activities that meet all relevant safety and environmental criteria are authorised and a permit granted. Using a UAV is considered a specific activity so has to be included in overall permit applications for assessment.

IAATO Executive Director, Dr. Kim Crosbie said, “Antarctica is still pristine with wildlife and landscapes that show little evidence of impact from direct human activity. To visit and operate in an environment like this comes with a responsibility to do so carefully and with minimal disturbance.

“The use of UAVs is in a state of development and, until more information is available, IAATO Member Operators and Competent Authorities are taking a precautionary approach when it comes to their operation. The idea is to devise a pragmatic policy framework that will allow safe and environmentally responsible use under controlled circumstances.”

IAATO has been requested, on a consultancy basis, to present draft UAV guidelines and experiences at the next annual Antarctic Treaty Consultancy Meeting (ATCM) in Bulgaria, June 2015.

Categories: Environment, Tourism, Antarctica.

Top Comments

Disclaimer & comment rules
  • Briton

    Cautioning all potential travellers to Antarctica, who are hoping to fly a drone,

    Apparently two kids were mucking around flying this drone in the middle of Antarctica,
    And would you believe it, a bloody cop car pulls up and cautions the poor kids and took the drone of them , sighting a possible danger to the public,

    Yeah right,lolol

    Dec 24th, 2014 - 01:25 pm 0
  • Livingthedream

    Antartica? Don't they mean Queen Elizabeth Land? LOL

    Dec 25th, 2014 - 02:58 pm 0
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