These newsletters aim to share updates, learnings, and guidance about our current (and future!) service deliveries. If you wish to subscribe, please email

Welcome to 2023! 

As we roll into the new year it’s a great time to reflect on the achievements of the one gone by and pull together some key statistics that are made possible by our volunteers and staff. The AUAVS had a hugely productive 2022 and we saw a significant increase in all aspects of flying operations. The below table captures this growth over the past couple of years and we look forward to seeing where these figures sit at the end of 2023. Great work everyone!

Total Number
of Days Flown
Total Number
of Flights
Total number
of Hours
Total number
of sharks observed
2021 -FY 227 20721 6053 153
2022 – FY 286 32927 8935 183
2023 – FY* 185 23534 5755 122
Grand Total 760 81297 20743 648

*Denotes Fiscal Year in progress

Jan 1
Mark Atkins and Tod Jackson responding to a Search and Rescue (SAR) at Cabarita Beach

Update to Operating Periods

The summer operating period is well underway at our 50 fixed locations with volunteers and staff conducting flights 7 days per week. Thankfully weather across the state has for the most part allowed flights to operate, which is a welcome change from spring. The summer operating period will end on Sunday the 29th of January, if you’re a staff member interested in maintaining proficiency through volunteer operations feel free to reach out to your local volunteer Branch UAV Coordinator.

Work will be available for the autumn operating period from the 01/04/2023-23/04/2023 for locations between Fingal Rovers and Yamba, locations between Sawtell and Mollymook shifts will be available from the 08/04/2023 -23/04/2023.

For those staff members who have worked between Batemans Bay and Pambula we thank you for your work over the summer period and we look forward to welcoming you back for the 2023-2023 summer operating period.

Jan 3;

Media Appearances 

Over the last few weeks, you may have noticed an influx in media reporting on AUAVS and SLSNSW because of increased shark sightings and high levels of rescue numbers. A reminder that prior to any staff member chatting to the media or releasing footage to the media that you must gain permission from the AUAVS SOC UAV Operator and your Local Supervisor. By doing this it not only gives us an opportunity to vet the request but also allows us to provide you with speaking points and statistics.

Well done to AUAVS staff member Emily Francis (below) for following the above process and representing us on Weekend Sunrise. The full interview can be found here.

AUAVS and UNSW Collaboration

AUAVS and UNSW recently partnered on a Science Industry Project – the SCIF3000 course. This project is a work integrated learning program that brings students together from across STEM faculties to collaborate on real industry project briefs.

The program saw undergraduate students from across UNSW Science and Engineering team up to tackle an Australian first drone management project provided by the AUAVS.

After a term of in-depth investigation and creative problem-solving, the students held a presentation showcase of their project solutions to AUAVS staff. It was fantastic to work with the students throughout the course and brainstorm some interesting ideas that were produced from a multi-disciplined perspective.
Well done to these students and everyone involved!

Jan 4;

Update to Flood Response

After three months of consecutive deployments AUAVS finished its last UAV Flood deployment on the 17th of December 2022. We would like to take this opportunity once again thanl all our staff and volunteers who have responded to and participated in flood deployments during 2022 with AUAVS and SLSNSW.

During 2022 AUAVS significantly developed our flood response capability to support NSWSES and other emergency service partners through 6 separate flood events and are well prepared for any future requests for assistance from other emergency services.

Tip of the month

Each month we will provide some tips and tricks to help you use drones as efficiently and safely as possible.

Battery and Crystal Sky Heat Management

We have had an unusually high number of defects this season for swollen Mavic 2 batteries and for crystal sky’s becoming unreliable. Many of these issues are heat related.

Please note that the Mavic 2 batteries and the crystal sky units are only designed to work in temperatures up to 40 degrees. As the batteries and Crystal Skies are now aging, they will often have symptoms when the temperature is anything above 30 degrees especially if there is no wind and direct sunlight.

Please put these devices in the shade as much as possible.

And remember:

  1. Never leave the pelican case open during your shift especially in direct sunlight. The sand, and salt air and not good for the hardware and the direct sunlight is particularly damaging.
  2. Always deploy the tent sides when available on a sunny day to promote a shaded environment.
  3. Always turn the UAV and crystal sky off between flights and have them kept in a shaded environment as a minimum, preferably inside would be even better.
  4. Never leave the hardware outside in the sun when you are breaking for lunch or having a rest room break.
  5. Give the crystal sky a 10-minute break in the shade if you feel it is getting hot.
  6. Batteries will swell when they are hot, these can be put back into circulation if they return to the normal shape once cooled, if they stay swollen once cooled then they need to be defected through AVCRM.
Jan 7;

Spatial Data Services

AUAVS is currently in the process of developing spatial data services. Spatial data capture with drones involves using and cameras to collect data such as images, videos, and LiDAR (light detection and ranging) scans. This data can be used for a variety of applications including surveying, mapping, and 3D modelling. We have recently utilised these services with large success during the 2022 flood responses.

If you or anyone you know has opportunities related to this field, please reach out to us via

Photo: a 3D model of Redhead SLSC generated by AUAVS Staff