Great Southern police say two new drones will be a major boost for search and rescue operations from the Stirling Range to the rugged south coast.
Officers in the Great Southern district were the first in regional WA to be trained as part of the Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems expansion project last week.
After completing the week-long course, four officers will be qualified to use the two drones that are expected to arrive and be ready for deployment next Monday.
The drones will be capable of flying to the summit of Bluff Knoll and staying in the air for several hours, including at night-time.
“The benefit is they help keep our staff safe and reduce the risk of police and volunteers doing the searches,” Great Southern Acting Superintendent Glenn Spencer said.
“We can send up the drones and cover a wider area in a shorter amount of time and they will complement the aircraft we currently use, the helicopters and fixed wings but they don’t replace them.”
The pilots will be trained to the commercial standards of Civil Aviation Safety Authority, with the drones subject to a flight plan for each operation.
The bigger of the two drones is valued at about $8000.
The devices have infrared cameras and GPS tracking capabilities. “It will certainly help us be more efficient and more effective, and be able to search a greater area in a much reduced time,” Supt Spencer said.
“We’ll be able target searches to specific areas and also set up the drones to search automatically in an area, which will give us a greater probability of detection in finding the person.”