Advance Queensland funding to advance remotely piloted aircraft tech in Queensland

Published Monday, 25 July, 2016 at 10:00 AM


Premier and Minister for the Arts
The Honourable Annastacia Palaszczuk

Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy and Minister for Small Business
The Honourable Leeanne Enoch

One hundred new aerospace industry jobs will be created in Queensland as a result of the Palaszczuk Government’s $1m investment in drone technology. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk today announced the State Government was providing $1 million in Advance Queensland funding in a first-of-its kind partnership with global aerospace giant The Boeing Company, in conjunction with Boeing subsidiary Insitu Pacific, Shell’s QGC project, Telstra and locally based small to medium-sized enterprises providing industry and technical expertise. 

The funding will develop and test cutting-edge Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) technologies for adoption by critical industries including LNG, agriculture, mining, energy, telecommunications, search and rescue and environmental management.
“The project aims to capitalise on the capabilities inherent in drones to carry out remote-monitoring and inspection of key infrastructure and data analysis to allow for better decision-making,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“Drone technology has the capability of introducing greater efficiencies in a range of Queensland industries and we want to make sure our state develops an industry that delivered jobs as part of this process.”

Technologies to be developed comprise an improved airspace situational awareness prototype system that will enable safe RPAS operations over a broad area and enhanced data analytics tools.

Innovation Minister Leeanne Enoch said the project was the first cab off the rank for the Palaszczuk Government’s recently announced $10 million Advance Queensland Platform Technology Program. 

“This aims to test and develop platform technologies – groups of technologies which form a base to take the next technological leap – in areas where Queensland has scientific knowledge and emerging industry strength.”

Ms Enoch said 50 per cent of the jobs created were expected to be in Queensland SMEs in both rural and urban areas. 

Director of Phantom Works International, Boeing Defence Space and Security Dr Shane Arnott said Boeing’s track record of aerospace innovation made the company a natural choice for this project.

“Boeing is excited to bring our 100 years of aerospace innovation to this important project,” Dr Arnott said.

“Working with the Queensland Government and our partners Insitu Pacific, QGC, Telstra and the SMEs, this really is a best-of-Queensland team dedicated to developing technology that can have a truly global impact.” 

Shell’s Vice President QGC Tony Nunan said the project had already partnered with Boeing in developing the world’s first commercial use of beyond-line-of-sight RPAS in its gas field operations.

“QGC is proud to be introducing into the project’s operations an emerging technology that will benefit both the resources and agriculture sectors,” Mr Nunan said.

“Landowners will benefit, over time, from fewer visits to their properties while QGC and the community will benefit from reduced driving and piloted flying.” 

More than a third of Australia’s RPAS industry is located in Queensland with a number of companies offering RPAS capabilities from aerial photography and surveying, to product development and providing training for RPAS operators, with applications across a range of sectors, including agriculture, mining, oil and gas and environmental applications, such as reef management and feral animal control.

The global market for Remotely Piloted Aircraft was valued at US$10.1 billion in 2015 and is expected to account for US$14.9 billion by 2020.

The $10 million Advance Queensland Platform Technology Program is part of the Queensland Government’s $405 million Advance Queensland initiative, which aims to transform Queensland into a knowledge-based economy and help create the jobs of the future.

The Palaszczuk Government is currently compiling a 10-year aerospace roadmap and action plan with the goal of making Queensland the hub of the multi-billion dollar Asia-Pacific aerospace industry. Aerospace is the technology and support systems that enables flight of all civil and military aircraft—aeroplanes, helicopters and remotely piloted aircraft.

Video of a Boeing Insitu ScanEagle in operation for QGC (courtesy of QGC) - Vimeo 

Media contact:                      Premier Palaszczuk’s Office:          0488 996 667

                                                Minister Enoch’s Office:                  0438 830 201