Cloncurry hears about possible drone testing facility

Cloncurry could be host to a Queensland drone test facility.
Cloncurry could be host to a Queensland drone test facility.

Cloncurry is one of two sites the Queensland government is looking at to potentially set up a drone test facility.

A public information session in town this week revealed the government is looking at a site at Cloncurry Airport as a possible location for the facility though a site at Ilfracombe near Longreach is also under investigation.

A community information sheet released by the Department of State Development said the government was progessing opportunities within the fast-growing drone technology sector and was already creating investment and jobs in research and development with drones used in crop and stock inspections, mining assessments, bushfire monitoring and natural disaster response.

The next step is to potentially deliver a dedicated drone test, trial and evaluation centre at an airfield where drone innovation and technology can be safely tested and evaluated.

Cloncurry Airport’s facilities, low air traffic and reputation as a transport hub makes it an ideal candidate for the site.

“The Cloncurry site appears to be suitable because of beneficial conditions for drone testing such as existing infrastructure, uncongested airspace, low population, relatively flat topography, adequate road access, favourable and predictable climatic conditions and other factors,” the information sheet said.

The investigation is in preliminary planning stage with no decision made yet on site or whether to even go ahead with the project and the information session was to explain the project and assess community interest.

Further planning will include confirming industry demand, site design specification and regulatory approvals with a final decision “not expected for some time”.

If Cloncurry gets the go-ahead the airport will need a new building to the north of the existing runway and a new access road to the facility. 

Local benefits could include increased expenditure and job opportunities.