Australian retailers predict drones, like this model from Parrot, will be popular this Christmas.
Australian retailers predict drones, like this model from Parrot, will be popular this Christmas.

Go fly a drone — but only in these places

DRONE zones will be established across Brisbane under an Australia-first plan to deal with a boom in unmanned aerial vehicles.

Brisbane City Council has launched a six-month trial for people to use drones weighing up to 2kg in 10 parks across the city.

Local Government Association of Queensland boss Greg Hallam said he believed this was the first time a local council had set aside designated parks for drone use.

"We're conscious that there are privacy issues in this space that need to be considered, as well as risk and insurance considerations for councils allowing residents to use drones in public areas in this way," he said.

"Trials like this one are an important way to understand public appetite for drones, work with the relevant authorities to monitor their use and to provide leanings that would benefit local government in the long term."

Global drone sales have continued to steadily grow both recreationally and commercially since 2013, with a Business Insider report estimating international sales would jump from an already massive $8 billion last year to reach $12 billion by 2021.

Drone zones in the Brisbane area
Drone zones in the Brisbane area

There are estimated to be more than 50,000 recreational drones currently within Australia.

Brisbane City Council's parks boss Councilor David McLachlan said there was "a growing number of queries" about where residents could fly drones recreationally.

"The Civil Aviation Safety Authority sets clear guidelines for the safe use of drones and model aircraft and council has thoroughly assessed and chosen these trial sights based on their requirements," Cr McLachlan said.

Drones up to 500g, flying less than 15km/h, could previously be flown without consent but drones heavier than that have always required a permit when flown on council land.

Cr McLachlan said the trial would be re-evaluated after six months to determine whether it should be continued permanently.

"We're committed to not only delivering world class open spaces for residents and visitors to enjoy, but also assisting in the sharing of these areas wherever possible," he said.

CASA confirmed Brisbane was believed to be the first council in Australia to undertake the initiative.

Under CASA rules, drone operators are unable to fly if they can't see the aircraft, including at night, and they cannot be flown over populated areas. Nor must they interfere with other aircraft.