Australian senators just called for a freeze on the sale of drones

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Senators from both sides of parliament today called for a freeze on the sale of drones in Australia.

In a hearing today, Coalition and Labor senators questioned why a safety review of drones, promised eight months ago, hadn’t begun yet.

Concerns were raised about the possibility of terrorists or hobbyists using drones for attacks on civilians or aircraft at major airports.

This year, numerous videos have started circulating showing how ISIS has been using drones to drop grenades.

Since October, Australians have been allowed to fly a commercial drone weighing up to 2kg without requiring a licence from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

While there have been numerous incidents of attempts to drop contraband over prison walls in NSW and Tasmania, a 2kg drone would struggle to carry anything heavier than a packet of biscuits, although the drones used by ISIS have been reported to be as light as 4kg.

Interference with passenger aircraft is a genuine threat, however, as pilots attempting to fly in and out of London’s Heathrow airport have reported on at least half a dozen occasions in the past year.

Senators in parliament today were told by infrastructure department boss Mike Mrdak that authorities were still deciding whether current regulatory requirements were adequate.

“We’re eight months from the announcement and we don’t have a terms of reference?” Coalition backbencher Barry O’Sullivan said.

“We’ve allowed 50,000 of these up into airspace while we’re having a think about how they should operate.

“I’m trying to see if I’m the only one concerned about this.”

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