Westpac Life Saver Rescue Drone

UAVs in Surf Life Saving

Surf Life Saving NSW currently operate Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or Drones at a range of locations across NSW on behalf of two partners, NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and Westpac.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or 'Drones' are a new technology that provide greater coverage and surveillance of potential risks along our coastline.

SLSNSW currently provide two separate UAV programs across NSW. The first UAV program is funded through the $16 million NSW Government Shark Management Strategy that has now been delivered for the past two seasons. This program along with providing greater patrol surveillance at the 18 identified locations also assists with shark species identification and research into the behaviour of marine life.

The second UAV program is funded through Westpac and is Australia’s first comprehensive national approach to surf rescue using innovative drone technology, giving surf lifesavers more eyes in the sky at patrolled beaches around the country.

Becoming a UAV Pilot

Qualifications and Training

Anyone who wishes to fly a drone for SLSNSW will be required to do a two-day course. Content covered in this course includes a full day of practical flight training with an instructor and operationally specific information which includes identification of marine life and other hazards such as rip currents. If you have a current Remote Pilots Licence (RePL) or other aviation qualifications, then you may be granted recognition of prior learning (RPL) and only be required for the operationally specific aspect of the course.

All SLSNSW UAV Pilots are required to have an Aviation Reference Number (ARN). If you do not currently have an ARN, please visit the CASA website.

Please click here to find out about upcoming training and proficiencies for the 2019-20 season.

Note: Attendance at a proficiency evening run by SLSNSW is compulsory prior to commencement of UAV patrols.

How to Get Involved

Surf Life Saving NSW are seeking expressions of interest from current SLSNSW members and members of the wider community to operate UAVs across 18 locations each weekend between September and April.

If you are interested in becoming a UAV Pilot, please apply below. For more information, please see our FAQs (bottom of this page)and UAV Fact Sheet or contact uav@surflifesaving.com.au.

DPI UAV Patrolled Locations

Information and Instruction Documents

SLSNSW Standard Operating Procedures (UAV)

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I operate at multiple locations?

Yes, this can be very beneficial, a great way to meet new people and gain more experience.

What are the season dates?

The season dates vary between locations, however, generally from September through to April.

What hours are required on patrol?

Surveillance must be undertaken across a 7-hour patrolling period (9am – 4pm) with two to three 15-minute flights each hour dependent upon conditions.

What is the minimum age requirement to be a UAV Pilot?

The minimum age requirement to be a UAV Pilot is 16 years of age.

Does operating as a UAV Pilot go towards my patrolling hours for the season?

Yes, volunteer UAV Pilot hours will count towards your patrolling hours. Please join your local club as any category of member and include this information in your Expression of Interest.

How can I get my club involved in the UAV Program?

At this point in time Surf Life Saving NSW are only utilising UAVs to service those contracts we have with government and our commercial partner, Westpac. If your club is interested in being involved in the future, then please contact uav@surflifesaving.com.au

Can I be a SLSNSW UAV operator without being a general patrolling member?

Yes! Surf Life Saving welcomes all interested members of the community to join and be a part of this great organisation.

I already have my Remote Pilots License (RePL) for sub-2kg operations, can I begin flying?

Having your RePL is a fantastic start to your UAV operational experience, although you will still be required to complete at least one (1) day of wildlife surveillance, shark identification, induction into the SLSNSW Standard Operating Procedures, and induction into the local operating procedures.

I was a pilot with the UAV program last season, do I need to apply again?

Yes, we need to get an official application via the links above in order to engage you in proficiency programs prior to the 2019-20 season.

I have more questions about the Surf Life Saving NSW UAV program?

Please see the UAV Program Fact Sheet for more information.


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Enquire about the UAV project

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