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Competing interests for a scarce resource can on one hand can produce cooperation, innovation, and opportunities; and on the other, rumours, secrecy, policy headaches, and competing interests.

The question of whether helicopters and unmanned airborne vehicles (UAVs or “drones”) can co-exist is a complex one, with the answer depending upon the where the observer is standing and the lens through which the questions are asked. It involves goodwill, imagination, and scepticism.

Industry experts and the authorities are saying “Don’t worry, it will be OK.” But will it be a re-run of when governments auctioned off radio spectrum for mobile phone networks?

The rise of UAVs

NOTAMs for major airports now include notices of UAVs together with the operator’s telephone number, area and height of operation. Operators monitoring the tower frequency.

Australia’s Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications’ Emerging Aviation Technologies – National Aviation Policy Issues Paper states “There are no concrete numbers on how many drones are currently in use in Australia. Estimates have ranged from 50,000 recreational users through to over one million. The rate of drone ownership in America, is approximately 8%. A conservative estimate of 5% of Australians owning a drone would see over 1.2 million drones operating in Australia. As of mid-June 2020, there are over 16,300 remote pilot licence holders and over 1900 remote operator certificate holders.”

AOPA USA says “Unmanned Aircraft Systems

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