Number of commercial drone operators in Australia doubles

IT appears to be a toy, but it could actually be a quiet revolution.

Talk of drones might conjure visions of war and destruction, but smaller remotely-piloted aircraft are already buzzing around Australian skies, used for aerial surveys, photography and advertising.

It is slow, but the evolution of the aircraft - stringently regulated by Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority - are now used to spray pesticides.

Farmers may soon use them in place of choppers to inspect crops.

According to CASA, the number of commercial drone firms now operating in Australia has doubled in the past 18 months.

There are at least 30 just in Queensland and New South Wales.

Beyond these, more than 10,000 recreational drones able to be purchased at department stores are estimated to be hovering around the country.

Matt Ewing leads Airmap3D, his firm conducting aerial surveys on up to eight mines in the coalfields surrounding Moranbah in Central Queensland.

After hearing talk of drones for surveyors, Mr Ewing went for the training and eventual certification.

"People are fascinated by (the drones)," he said. "Every time I go out, there is always an audience.

"People sit back and think, 'Wow, it's amazing', they're blown away by it."

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