QinetiQ Australia, a leading multinational tech and science firm, recently announced that they’ve been selected by the Queensland Government to build an unmanned aerial systems drone test range in the town of Cloncurry, in Queensland, Australia.

The Mirragin podcast “Drones for Good” team had the chance to sit down with Michael Andrae and Jim Parkes – two QinetiQ representatives who know all the ins-and-outs of the project – to learn more. These are a few of the interesting facts we learned during our discussion.

5 facts about the new drone test range

1 – This UAS range is the first of its kind in Australia

The Queensland Government began working on the UAS test range project more than three years ago and started by identifying and analysing around 40 potential sites for the range, which would need adequate runway room and airspace to suit a variety of purposes. After numerous studies, they narrowed their options down to two sites and ultimately selected Cloncurry Aerodrome.

Until now, individuals and companies in need of space for drone testing would have to work out arrangements with private landowners. Once the test range opens at the end of 2020, there will be a designated space for drone tests and projects.

2 – The UAS range will be highly accessible

Accessibility is one of the motivations behind creating the range. Major companies have long had access to sufficient areas for UAS testing and development, but small contractors and individuals haven’t had the same benefits. With so many new companies joining Australia’s drone ecosystem, it’s critical for organisations of all sizes to have testing capabilities in a safe, secure environment.

Industry leaders, such as Boeing, already have plans to utilise the Cloncurry range, but companies of any size will be able to use it.

3 –  The range will have a variety of amenities

In addition to a full-service runway, the Cloncurry range will provide other necessities such as a hangar, a workspace where people can service their UAVs and payloads, and a control centre. There will be state-of-art radar systems for tracking aircraft movement and enhancing range safety.

Currently, the airspace for the facility covers a radius of 20-30 nautical miles and extends up to 10,000 feet, but this may increase in the future as testing needs evolve.

4 – This is a multi-company effort

While QinetiQ was chosen by the Queensland Government to oversee the project, the company called upon multiple contractors and consultants from other organisations to take the range from a concept to reality.

They’ve worked with numerous engineers, infrastructure experts, and aviation authorities at each step to move the project along.

5 – The range is almost open for business

QinetiQ officials are shooting for a target open date of October 2020. At first, activities at the range will be limited to routine flying exercises and demonstrations, but in the future, officials plan to expand operations to more complex projects involving beyond-line-of-sight flight and multi-vehicle projects.

Even though the range isn’t open yet, you can reach out to QinetiQ now for more information on the UAS testing facility, as well as details about getting access once the range is usable. Tune in to the podcast for contact information and additional details about the new drone test range in Cloncurry.

There are many innovative manufacturers and service providers in Australia’s growing drone industry. If you’re developing a drone solution for your business, you’ll have lots of options to consider – we’re here to help you find partners in the industry who can meet your needs. Schedule a consultation today at admin@mirragin.com.au

Meanwhile, you can tune into the Mirragin Drones for Good podcast here.

Image: QinetiQ Australia has been awarded a contract to design and construct an unmanned aerial systems (UAS) flight test range (FTR) on behalf of the Queensland Government. Source: QinetiQ Australia