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16 August 2019

Use drone-flying know-how for effective surface mining

First publishedon www.AggBusiness.com
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Aspasa director Nico Pienaar.JPG
Aspasa director Nico Pienaar

South African surface mining association Aspasa has taken the proactive step of educating its members on the laws and regulations governing the safe use of drones to undertake various work site tasks.

A series of talks led by Mandy Tebbit, of Cranfield Aviation Training, staged at Aspasa regional meetings held throughout South Africa have covered the most pressing requirements of air law (Civil Aviation Regulations), weather conditions (meteorology), navigation and airspace rules, safety assessments, and drone operations. The talks have also touched on more general requirements such as workforce awareness of drones, pilot characteristics, training programmes for safety officers and communication from civil aviation to the industry.

Adding to some of her talk content, Tebbit says: “Pilots also need to undergo training, specifically the SODA 1 and 2 (Safety Officer Drone Awareness) training programmes as the human factor in flying a drone in a high-risk environment is important, not only to pilots but to general mine employees as well.

“Human error reduction awareness in the industry must evolve to mind-state management. This is a concept that can be subdivided into various areas of a mine’s functioning such as how the culture, leadership and teamwork aspects of the mine will influence drone operations, the communication and co-ordination history of mine operations, as well as the decision-making and risk assessment culture of a particular mine.

“The personalities of pilots (Safety Officers) are equally important. They need diverse abilities such as concentration, accuracy of flying and having a positive mindset, among others, to successfully fly a drone on a mine.

“Finally, pilots must be aware of official communications from civil aviation to the industry such as the Aeronautical Information Publications (AIP’s) and Notices to Airmen (NOTAMS).”

Tebbit concludes that if a workforce is not committed to compliance, if they are tired or stressed, and if they fear dismissal, they are going to make mistakes or cover them up. However, a positive, compliant workforce should be team orientated, communicate with one another, have innovative briefings and leadership and maintain situational awareness of drone operations and safety in order to use this type of technology successfully.

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