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Heavy-duty drone for Fiji

Felix Chaudhary
Saturday, March 22, 2014

NADI-BASED company Skywards Industries Ltd is the second to be granted permission to operate unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in Fiji but the first given the green light to operate in the heavy-duty category.

Suva-based firm Skypix Fiji was granted permission last month, opening the door to the use of modern hi-tech remotely-piloted aircraft in Fiji airspace.

While Skypix Fiji's lightweight drone is limited to short scale photography flights, Skywards Industries' UAVs are capable of carrying a bigger payload and conducting more complex tasks.

Civil Aviation Authority of Fiji CEO Netava Waqa said the company was granted permission after being assessed and agreeing to abide by regulations.

"Based on our team's assessment, we have granted Skyward Industries permission to operate a more sophisticated remotely-piloted aircraft," he said.

"As with other operators of UAVs in the country, they have to advise air traffic controllers prior to operating the aircraft and cannot operate within six kilometres of an international aerodrome and within three kilometres of a domestic airport.

"They also cannot fly above 200 feet and into heavily-populated and no-fly-zones."

Skywards Industries managing director and CEO Kevin Rotsaert said he had big plans for UAVs in the country.

"We have acquired four sophisticated machines capable of carrying professional video and photo equipment for the use of advertisement, sales and promotions, very high resolution video footage and still pictures, geographical mapping, aerial survey, agricultural analysis, land and equipment survey, tourism video, powerline monitoring and much more," he said.

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