Unmanned aerial systems
Queensland Drones Strategy
The Queensland Government was the first in Australia to launch a strategy for unmanned aerial systems (UAS) – also known as drones.
The Queensland Drones Strategy ( 7 MB) builds upon Queensland’s strengths and leverages the state’s innovation success to take advantage of new and emerging opportunities, complementing our Advance Queensland initiative.
Our vision is that Queensland is a world-leader in drone technology and application. Our drone industry has strong investment and jobs growth, supported by our world-leading research and development capability, and a highly skilled workforce.
We’ve developed the strategy in consultation with government, industry, academia and the general public, to ensure it supports the industry now and into the future.
Drone testing facility
The Queensland Flight Test Range is now open for business. Located at Cloncurry Airport, this state-of-the-art unmanned aerial systems test facility is the first of its kind in Australia. We’re investing $14.5 million to develop the foundation stage of the facility, which gives users access to:
- a 20-metre by 20-metre hangar
- airspace measuring 30 kilometres by 20 kilometres and up to 6000 feet
- a 2-kilometre runway
- state-of-the- art monitoring equipment
- surveillance radar
- an air conditioned workshop
- supporting amenities.
The facility has been used by one of the world’s largest aerospace companies, The Boeing Company, to test its advanced autonomy project including brain-on-board technology.
Global defence technology company QinetiQ has been appointed to manage the foundation stage of the Queensland Flight Test Range.
This project is a priority of the Queensland Drones Strategy and supports initiatives set out in our North West Queensland Economic Diversification Strategy Implementation Plan 2019-2021.
Frequently asked questions
The construction phase of this state-of-the-art testing facility supported more than 100 direct jobs in the region including five new apprenticeships.
Users of the facility will also bring staff to the region, which will benefit local businesses and the community.
The Queensland Flight Test Range provides the missing link in Australia for industry and researchers to safely conduct complex trials of new drone technology, helping them achieve relevant certification of new systems more quickly and cheaply than previously possible.
No. Operational procedures have been developed to ensure the use of the airport is not impacted, and that test flights will only be conducted outside of scheduled flight times.
Built on airport land, the facility includes a hangar and operations room next to the existing aircraft parking apron. Other on-site infrastructure includes a surveillance radar, communications equipment, power supply, access road and a small carpark.
As owners of the Cloncurry Airport, Cloncurry Shire Council will host the test facility.
QinetiQ has managed the design and construction and has been appointed to manage and maintain the facility for the foundation stage. National air safety authorities, including the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and Air Service Australia, have provided a regulatory framework for the facility.
QinetiQ has also been appointed as the operator and in this role will assist users undertake tests and ensure they meet operational procedures and meet safety requirements. QinetiQ can also assist users acquire regulatory approvals for their flight tests.
Users will pay to use the test site and flight test range. Fees will depend on the nature and complexity of services required by the user.
Site operator QinetiQ can provide potential users with cost estimates.
Typically, the facility will be available for operations during daylight hours, from sunrise to sunset all year round. In future, there may be occasional night-time operations.
Duration of flights will vary but will operate around scheduled flight times at the airport. Length of test campaigns will also vary – from a few days to potentially up to a month.
In early stages, it’s unlikely the facility will be used on a full-time basis. Future usage will be subject to demand.
Further developing the facility will depend on future demand and use from industry and research and development sectors. The flight test range needs to meet all safety and regulatory requirements and have ongoing support from air safety authorities.
Last updated: 21 Oct 2021