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Future mobility and services

Future Transport Strategy

Emerging aviation technologies

Rapid point-to-point services that could transform emergency services and deliveries

The increasing capability and deployment of drones is providing opportunities and innovations that could provide benefits across a range of areas including: customer mobility; last-mile delivery for freight customers and operators; efficient and effective management of built assets; and rapid deployment of emergency personnel, maintenance crews and equipment. 

The NSW Government is already trialling the use of urban air mobility devices (UAMs), commonly referred to as drones, to assist with infrastructure maintenance, congestion management, environmental and land use management, disaster site management, and data collection. For example, Transport for NSW’s Transport Management Centre (TMC) is exploring the use of drones to improve incident management and situational awareness, while Sydney Trains is using drones to safely check overhead wires and inspect tracks, reducing disruption to services.

With numerous companies in Australia and other locations around the world actively exploring the potential for drones to be used for small parcel freight delivery and point-to-point transport for people, there is likely to be competition for air and landing spaces for drones and other aviation technologies in the future. Transport for NSW is investigating various aerial mobility strategies to help guide this.

The future use of drones and other aviation technologies should consider potential customer benefits, community impacts (such as noise pollution), access arrangements for multiple operators, supporting infrastructure requirements and safety. We are engaging with industry to explore the potential benefits and implications of drones for customers and the community.

Australia’s current safety laws for drones depend on whether the operator is flying commercially or recreationally, with recreational and very small commercial operations generally exempt as long as they pose no risk or hazard to the public, property or another aircraft. With the use of drones and other new aviation technologies, such as electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles (eVTOLs), expected to grow considerably, a national framework is required to harness the social and economic benefits of aviation technologies, ensure safe, secure and efficient operation, and provide clarity and certainty to industry investors. This includes collaboration at both the State and Federal level to develop Urban Air Traffic Management systems to facilitate the safe movement of high UAM traffic densities.

The Australian Government has released a discussion paper on Emerging Aviation Technologies as the first step in developing a national framework that considers issues such as airspace integration, safety, security, noise, environment, privacy, infrastructure, technology trials, and coordinating regulation across jurisdictions. The NSW Government will continue to work with the Commonwealth and other states and territories to capitalise on these new technologies to deliver economic and social benefits.

Future directions to investigate

  • Continue to work with the Australian Government and other jurisdictions on a national regulatory framework for emerging aviation technologies.
  • Investigate the role drones may play in improving real-time information, the efficient management of networks, assets, and incidents and emergency response.
  • Investigate the role drones may play in improving first- and last-mile freight delivery and passenger mobility services and outcomes.
  • Work with councils and the Australian Government to develop a common framework to identify safe locations for larger drone landing pads and operations in built up areas.
  • Investigate future land use options for take-off and landing infrastructure in line with the National Airports Safeguarding Framework.

Six principles for Future Transport

The Future Transport 2056 Strategy is focused on six key principles for the future of mobility in the state, which together aim to positively impact the economy, communities and environment of NSW.

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