Drone pilots could earn high salaries in WA mining, oil and gas industries

Drone pilots are reportedly earning as, much or even more than, regular aircraft pilots for operating in northern WA’s mining, oil, and gas sectors.

Mahmood Hussein, Global Drone Solutions’ CEO, said drone pilots with two years of experience earned an average of $110,000 a year, around the same as commercial aircraft pilots, WA Today reports.

He added that those seeking a career flying the devices need only to pay $500 for them and could earn more money depending on the industry they work for.

“Mining, oil, and gas drone pilots can earn from $150,000 to $200,000,” he said.

“If you buy a $35 drone which fits in the palm of your hand, that’s quite difficult to control. But once you start getting to the $400 to $500 drones, they’ve got auto pilots on there that automatically fly the drone.”

He went on to say their company conducts a five-day training course for professionals and is looking at two hour basic training which outlines the regulations regarding drones.

While qualified and professional operators are governed by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Hussein added that cheaper and more accessible drones had further implications, as individuals who purchase them may not know of the rules and regulations.

The Queensland Government provided $1 million support on a research project involving the use of drones to monitor natural gas wells and associated infrastructure. The move was welcomed by the Queensland Resources Council (QRC) due to their ability to improve safety and reduce the number of on-ground inspections.

Rio Tinto has also planned and tested the use of drones for inspections on their sites to increase safety and productivity.